Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in February

What's Happening in Hawaii
During the 3rd week in February:


On the atolls and islands at the northwest end of the archipelago, the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is beginning to bear its young. Already 30 pounds at birth, a seal pup grows rapidly during the next five or six weeks, increasing in weight to as much as 200 pounds. Throughout this period, its mother devotes all her time to nursing the pup and teaching it to swim, not even pausing to feed herself.

The monk seal once lived throughout the archipelago and, except for the Hawaiian bat, is the only native mammal remaining on the islands.

Biologically unchanged in 15 million years, it does not flee from intruders, and after centuries of human predation and intrusion into breeding areas, the monk seal today is a federally listed endangered species.

Its Hawaiian name, ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, means "dog running in the toughness" and probably refers to its awkward gait as well as to its doglike face.
Click here to visit a previous DOFAW blog post about the Hawaiian monk seal, including information about hiking at Kaena Point, Oahu.

Also, visit the Monk Seal Mania blog, where photos, frequent updates and even video will keep you up-to-date with Monk seal activity on Oahu.
Some text from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

All photos by C. Tucker

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