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Photo of the Week (5/3/10)

 

Rare Apple of Her Eye
Seal and pup
John S. Johnson/Marine Photobank
Hawaiian monk seals are typically born from March to June, after a gestation period of 11 months. Listed as endangered, less than 1,200 of the species are estimated to inhabit the waters and coasts of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian monk seals are vulnerable to a myriad of threats, including entanglement in marine debris, human disturbance, , erosion of haul-out and pupping beaches, fishery interactions, shark predation and disease. Biologists with NOAA Fisheries estimate the population is declining at a rate of 4 percent per year; 119 seal pups were born in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2009, down from 138 in 2008. According to NOAA Fisheries, the species is declining primarily because of high juvenile mortality due to a reduction in food availability. As a result, only one in five pups survive to adulthood.

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