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Endangered Hawaiian monk seal population rises to 1,400

  • BRUCE ASATO / 2016

    A Hawaiian monk seal makes its way further up from the water on a beach in Waikiki, having taken up temporary residence in front of the Colony Surf.

Federal wildlife biologists say the population of endangered Hawaiian monk seals has grown 3 percent a year for the past three years.

Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Lead Scientist Charles Littnan said Tuesday there are about 1,400 seals in the wild. He says there have been increases in the past, but they were minor blips.

Littnan says more juveniles are surviving in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. He says this is partly because of programs like those that disentangle seals from marine debris and take malnourished young seals to a Big Island seal hospital.

Littnan says about 30 percent of seals are alive today because of such interventions.

The monk seal population has been declining since the 1950s, when federal authorities counted 3,400 seals on Northwestern Hawaiian Island beaches.

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