According to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 2014, 121 monk seal pups were counted as part of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, up from 103 in 2013 and 111 in 2012.
The number may not seem like much – but for the species classified as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the last step before being completely extinct, 18 more pups make a difference. Back in 2007, the total population of Hawaiian monk seals was 1,012 individuals. Today that number is estimated to be 1,100.
The biggest dangers to these adorable mammals that live only in the northern isles of Hawaii are getting tangled in marine debris, lack of food, and their babies being eaten by predators. To help, researchers are moving young seals from Midway and Kure Atolls, where their chances of survival are only of 25 percent, to other places like Laysan Island where they have a 60 to 70 percent chance of reaching three years of age.
The Marine Mammal Center also rescued two underweight pups and are rehabilitating them at the Ke Kai Ola Seal Hospital. When they are all better, they’ll be released back into the wild. Judging by this too cute for words video the center released, they are on their way!