The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared 2017 the Year of the Monk Seal.
This year commemorates 10 years since NOAA’s publication of its revised “Recovery Plan for the Hawaiian Monk Seal.” NOAA announced last month that the wild seal population is now at about 1,400, an increase of 3 percent per year over the past three years.
Most of the population, about 1,100 animals, resides in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, while a growing number, 300, lives around the main Hawaiian islands.
NOAA Fisheries has been working with partners, including the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the Marine Mammal Center’s monk seal hospital, Ke Kai Ola, to help save the animals from malnourishment, net entanglement and fishing hooks.
A number of events are planned to celebrate the Year of the Monk Seal. NOAA will have booths on monk seals at Bishop Museum’s “Fall in Love With Science” family-friendly event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in the Castle Memorial Building.
The Waikiki Aquarium will host children’s book author and illustrator Gill McBarnet, who will read from her book “Hoku the Seal’s Three Wishes” at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by keiki crafts. The aquarium is also featuring Charles Littnan, lead scientist of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, 6:30 p.m. April 6 at Punahou School’s Thurston Memorial Chapel. The lecture is free. Call 923-9741 or visit waikikiaquarium.org.
Visit the Monk Seal Research Program’s Facebook page for updates.