Story and photo provided by Katie Twaddle of Na Pali Riders Raft Tours

Monk seal pic

Spotting a Hawaiian monk seal along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is a rare treat. Monk seals are extremely endangered and their numbers continue to dwindle each year. It is estimated that there are only 1,200 monk seals remaining in the wild.  

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Even with federal protection, the road to recovery for the monk seal is as long as it is challenging. These unique marine mammals are unable to reproduce fast enough to replenish their population. It takes roughly eight years for a female to reach maturity, if she even lives that long. When the female seal does give birth, the mortality rate for a pup is extremely high due to shark predation, lack of food, habitat loss, and entanglement in derelict fishing gear. In addition, pups are being born at popular beach areas on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, where exposure to human interaction may be harmful for both mothers and their young.  With so many obstacles standing in their way, the extinction of the Hawaiian monk seal seems inevitable.

For those who are able to survive against all odds, a life of leisure seems to be the case—or so it appears to be. We often spot the Hawaiian monk seal basking on the beach, looking very sleepy and mild-mannered. But these seals are actually taking an important nap and are not to be disturbed. They are restoring the critical energy they will need to hunt for food later on.

The Hawaiian monk seal is the oldest species of seal on earth. Help us keep them alive through pollution prevention, and by reporting any monk seal sightings to NOAA Fisheries Monk Seal Hotline (808)651-7668 or email Together, we can help these beautiful creatures to survive.

To learn more about the Hawaiian monk seal, visit Na Pali Coast Magazine

NOAA Fisheries Monk Seal Hotline: (808) 651-7668 or email