Rare Hawaiian monk seal now calls Long Marine Lab home
Meet UC Santa Cruz’s newest student--a two-year-old Hawaiian monk seal named Hō‘ailona. Like any freshman, he’s adjusting to his new environment, making friends, and even has his own Facebook page. However, his curriculum is a little different than that of the average student--Hō‘ailona is learning to participate in scientific research that can provide critical data for the conservation of endangered monk seals.
National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) scientists rescued Hō‘ailona from a Kaua‘i beach in May 2008, after he’d been abandoned by his mother. They cared for him and then released him back to the wild on the island of Moloka‘i in December 2008. The transition back into the wild did not go smoothly; Hō‘ailona had become habituated to humans and preferred hanging out at the wharf and interacting with people to being with his fellow seals. As he grew bigger, his interactions with people became a threat to his own and the public’s safety.