The endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal may be seen on any of our cruises around Kauai or the Napali coast, although they are most frequently seen during our Niihau boat tours. Although not playful in any sense, Hawaiian monk seals do have distinctive personalities. We’ve come to recognize several individuals that visit our snorkel spots so you may find our crew members greeting them by name. With less than 1200 individuals remaining, the Hawaiian monk seal is one of the two or three most endangered seal species on the planet. With this in mind, we ask that both passengers and crew respect their need for peace and quiet.
The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) in the Family Phocidae, are the most primitive living members of the Family Phocidae, having separated from other true seals perhaps 15 million years ago. The common name derives from its round head covered with short hairs, giving it the appearance of a medieval friar. The name may also reflect the fact that the Hawaiian monk seal lives a more solitary existence in comparison with other seals who prefer to congregate in large colonies.
Mature Hawaiian monk seals feature a brownish pelage, or coat, often scarred from shark attacks or injuries from fishing gear. Young monk seals are silver with creamy white bellies, chests and throats. Newborns are dark black becoming black and wooly with fuzzy short hair as pups. Adult males weigh 300 to 400 pounds and grow to around 7 feet in length while adult females tend to be a bit larger: 400 to 600 pounds and 8 feet in length. Pups average at 30 to 40 pounds at birth.