The total population of Hawaiian monk seals, an endangered species once on the brink of extinction, has surpassed 1,500, scientists have found.
Hawaiian monk seals can be found in both Papahanuamokuakea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to cancel monk seal and other research surveys in 2020, and teams weren’t able to get back to Hawaii until the fall of 2021, according to NOAA:
“Following the return of field teams to Honolulu last autumn, population analysis began. Now the numbers are in, and the news is good! We estimate that the total number of monk seals throughout their entire range was 1,570 in 2021. That is a respectable increase since the most recent estimate of 1,435 in 2019. It marks the first time the population has exceeded 1,500 seals in more than 2 decades.”
(Featured image credit: NOAA Fisheries)