Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) - Kauai - Hawaii
A Hawaiian monk seal rests on the warm sand beaches on the north shore of Kauai. Hawaiian monk seals are one of the few seal species to inhabit tropical waters. I was lucky enough to spot this individual swimming in the shallow blue water on a beautiful late morning. I sat and watched it swim and the seal eventually hauled itself out onto the beach right in front of me. I was careful not to disturb it and grabbed my biggest lens to capture a few images of this incredibly rare creature and then I retreated to observe it from a distance. These warm water seals have inhabited the Hawaiian Islands for millions of years, but due to many factors these animals numbers are dwindling and this is a species on the brink. Classified as critically endangered, and down to only 1100 individuals in the wild, the Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered animals on earth. Conservation efforts for the monk seal are considerable but the population numbers are still on the decline. Things are not looking good for these amazing warm water mammals, but with more awareness, more scientific study and more conservation effort it's hopefully not too late for these beautiful animals.
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