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Hawaiian Monk Seal

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Scientific Classification
Hawaiian monk seal

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Chordata

Class

Mammalia

Order

Canivora

Family

Phocidae

Genus

Monachus

Species

M. schauinslandi

The Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, is an endangered species of seal and former cryptid discovered around 1905.

The Hawaiian monk seal is one of two remaining monk seal species; the other is the Mediterranean monk seal. A third species, the Caribbean monk seal, is extinct. The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii. It grows to only 6-7ft long.

These monk seals are a conservation reliant endangered species. The small population of about 1,100 individuals is threatened by human encroachment, very low levels of genetic variation, entanglement in fishing nets, marine debris, disease, and past commercial hunting for skins. There are many methods of conservation biology when it comes to endangered species; trans-location, captive care, habitat clean up, and educating the public about the Hawaiian monk seal are some of the methods that can be employed. In 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a controversial draft programmatic environmental impact statement intended to improve protections for the monk seal. The evolutionary history of the monk seal is controversial, including multiple hypotheses for the phylogenetic to other phocids. Due to the absence of fossil records, little evidence indicates that the Hawaiian monk seal is related to other seals in the family.

Moked

Hawaiian monk seal corpse

Based on its prehistoric and unspecialized skeletal and vascular anatomy, the Hawaiian monk seal is considered the most primitive of living seals and that descends from the Caribbean species, M. tropicalis; all three species originated in the North Atlantic separated from its congeners as early as 15 million years ago.

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