Updated: Jun 15
For many people, nothing is cuter than seeing a baby animal. Puppies, kittens, bear cubs – whatever the animal the funny activities of the little creatures make us smile and laugh. The Internet is full of videos showing the antics of these younglings as they play and learn about the world. Hawaiian monk seals are no different. Their pups are a joy to watch as they learn to swim and play in the sand. But watching any animal in the wild, especially an endangered animal like the Hawaiian monk seal, comes with different responsibilities than watching our new puppy.
Hawaiian monk seals have one pup at a time. While the seals mate in the water, the pups are born onshore. There is no hard and fast mating season so pups can be born anytime but more pups tend to be born in the spring and early summer than other times. The mom will haul out on a suitable beach and give birth. She will stay with the pup approximately six weeks during which time she nurses her with very high fat milk to help the newborn grow as quickly as possible. Mom does not eat much during this time and loses a significant amount of weight. After the six week or so weaning period, mom leaves the pup and goes out to sea. The pup has to make it on their own at this point.
If you ever see a Hawaiian monk seal mom and pup that is not being attended by officials, please call NOAA at 888-256-9840 to report it. While you are around the pair it is critical that you stay at least 150’ away and do not disturb them in any way. If the mom is disturbed too much, she may leave the pup early reducing its chances for survival. Observing wildlife in nature should be done in such a way as to minimize human impact. Always try to stay out of site, use binoculars and telephoto lenses, and follow any official recommendations for the situation. That way you help keep the species here for future generations.
See our Monk Seal and Hawaii Fine Art collections. A portion of all sales goes to benefit endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
Image below is of the last pup (and her mom) born on Maui back in 2018.