Good news for one of the most endangered animals in the world.
Researchers say the Hawaiian monk seal population is slowly making a recovery. In recent years, the decline has slowed in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), and a population of seals has reestablished itself in the main Hawaiian Islands and is increasing.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest population census, at least 184 pups were born in the NWHI in 2015. That’s up from the 156 pups born in 2014.
Researchers also say the mammal’s survival rate has greatly improved.
“These are the highest levels that we’ve seen in decades, and in some places, the highest levels in survival that we’ve seen in 30 years,” said Charles Littnan, lead scientist for NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program.
Despite the good news, researchers say monk seals have a long way to go in terms of population recovery.
NOAA Fisheries released a five-year action plan to prevent extinction and encourage monk seal recovery.
Actions include increasing juvenile survival in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, preventing disease outbreaks, and encouraging community stewardship and citizen science.Click here for more information.