Animal of the Month: June

Here’s a new feature that we talked about on the AZAD Facebook (if you’re not on it, you should be).  Each month, we’ll feature a new animal and some information about that animal. For June, I’m featuring a Hawaiian animal since the AZAD trip to Hawaii is on!  Can you guess what this animal is?

This is a Hawaiian Monk Seal.  The Hawaiian monk seal is one of two remaining monk seal species; the other is the Mediterranean monk seal. A third species, the Caribbean monk seal, is extinct.  There are only about 1,000 remaining Hawaiian monk seals in the wild.

There are not many on the main islands of Hawaii.  They mostly live in the remote, uninhibited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They eat the fish, spiny lobsters, octopuses, and eels that live in the coral reefs there.

The monk seal is named for its folds of skin that somewhat resemble a monk’s cowl, and because it is usually seen alone or in small groups. Hawaiians call the seal `Ilio holo I ka uaua, which means, “dog that runs in rough water.”  More from National Geographic.

Every animal of the month won’t have a personal story, but this one does.  This girl was actually on a main island. I took this photo in Kauai.  I was driving down a beautiful stretch of road near the water when I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to make u-turns in Hawaii, but I sure did!  The whole trip I had been talking about seeing a monk seal.  My mom, who was traveling with me, thought I was hallucinating.

“That was a monk seal!”  I screamed as she shook her head and called me crazy.   As I pulled over by the side of the road and made my way down the beach, someone yelled at me to stop and told me not to get to close to her.  I excitedly asked if that was a monk seal.  He said yes.  He said I could watch her, but not get too close and explained that he was a biologist protecting and researching them.

The coolest experience ever!  I hope everyone who goes to Hawaii with AZAD gets to see one too!


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