Hawaiian monk seal is the official state mammal of Hawaii. It was entitled as the official state mammal of Hawaii in 2008. The scientific name of the Hawaiian monk seal is Monachus schauinslandi. It is locally known as ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua, which means “dog that runs in rough water”. The law designating the Hawaiian monk seal as the official Hawaii state mammal is found in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Volume 1, Chapter 5, Section 5-12.
State Mammal of Hawaii Facts—
- Common Name: Hawaiian monk seal
- Scientific Name: Monachus schauinslandi
- Color: grey coat, white belly, and slender physique
- Length: 7 ft
- Weight: 300 to 400 pounds
- Diet: benthic and reef-dwelling fishes and invertebrates
- Cubs: 1 pup a year
- Lifespan: 25-30 years
The state mammal of Hawaii, the monk seals occurs on small, uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Principle sites are on Nihoa and Necker islands, French Frigate Shoals, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Kure Atoll, and Laysan, Lisianski, and Midway Islands. Mature Hawaiian monk seals feature a gray pelage, or coat, which turns brown with weathering.
Young Hawaiian monk seals are silver with creamy white stomachs, chests, and throats. Pups are black and woolly with fuzzy short hair. Newborn pups are clad in a black natal fur. Monk seals feed mainly on benthic and reef-dwelling fishes and invertebrates, including flatfish, scorpenids, eels, octopuses, and spiny lobsters.
They forage in depths from 10m-40m along the slopes of coral reefs. Hawaiian monk seals do not migrate, although certain individuals may scatter over long distances. These animals are mostly introverts, although females will sometimes foster another female’s pup. Females with pups are extremely sensitive to disturbances; they will threaten, or if necessary, attack intruders.