Are Hawaiian monk seals coming back?
The Hawaiian monk seal was listed as endangered throughout its range on November 23, 1976. Counts have been made at the atolls, islands and reefs where they haul out in the northwest Hawaiian Islands since the late 1950s. By 1982, the population had declined to half of its 1957-1958 level. Since the mid-1980's, beach counts have declined at five percent per year. NMFS estimates that currently there are approximately 1400 animals. The number of births declined significantly at all five major breeding locations in 1990, followed by some recovery in subsequent years. However, the number of births has not reached the level observed in the mid-to-late 1980's, and is not expected to in the near future because of the high losses of immature seals at French Frigate Shoals and mobbed seals at Laysan and Lisianski Islands.