IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Biology

Monk seals are predominately solitary although females with young may be observed near each other due to limited areas offering the preferred habitat type for pupping (8). Females are sexually mature at around five to six years of age and tend to give birth to a single pup; the majority of births occur between March and June (4). Females suckle their young for around six weeks (8). Males become extremely aggressive during the breeding season and groups of males can sometimes kill females or juveniles in what is known as 'mobbing' during this time (2). Hawaiian monk seals have a similar fat content to their relatives that inhabit cooler, polar waters and have developed behavioural adaptations to cope with the warmth of their tropical habitat; they are mainly nocturnal, spending the day hauled out on sandy beaches often wallowing in wet sand by the waters edge (5). Monk seals feed on a variety of marine animals from fish, including eels, to cephalopods such as octopus and squid (4). They forage at depths of up to 100 metres, but are known to dive to 500 metres, and may travel large distances to foraging locations (5).

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