Monk Seals: stay your distance


Hawaiians call it ilio-holo-ikauaua (ee-lee-o holo ee ka ooa-ooa) meaning ‘dog that runs in the sea. Monk seals are not found anywhere else in the world. They are one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world and their population is declining. Over the last 50 years, the Hawaiian monk seal population has declined by more than 60% and is now at its lowest level in recorded history (fewer than 1100). Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and state law in Hawaii.

Marine animals such as monk seals, sea turtles and dolphins are part of the identity of the islands and hold a special place in the minds and hearts of the people of Hawaii. While viewing marine animals, you should ensure that your actions do not disturb the animals you are observing.

It is natural for monk seals to come ashore or haul out on the beach for long periods of time. Please give them the space they need to rest and do not attempt to push them back into the water.

Roped off areas on the beach are for your safety and their protection – please do not enter.

If approached by a seal, move away to avoid interaction. If in the ocean, cautiously exit the water.

Pets, especially dogs, can pose a significant risk to monk seals. Please keep them on a leash when in the presence of monk seals to avoid injury or disease transmission.

In the ocean, monk seals may exhibit inquisitive behavior. Approaching or attempting to play or swim with them may alter their behavior and their ability to fend for themselves in the wild.

To report monk seal sightings:
Oahu: 220-7802
Kauai: (808) 651-7668
Molokai: (808) 553-5555
Maui/Lanai: (808) 292-2372
Island of Hawaii
East: (808) 756-5961
West: (808) 987-0765
or email
To report stranded / entangled marine mammals:

For indepth information about monk seals go to: