Posted on: May 10, 2012

PWF's Making Waves Lecture Series Offers Free Presentation on Hawaiian Monk Seals

Three local experts on Hawaii's critically endangered monk seal will present updates on efforts to protect the seals at a presentation titled, "Hawaiian Monk Seals in Peril," to be held on Thursday, May 17, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Pacific Whale Foundation's Discovery Center at the Ma'alaea Harbor Shops. The presentation is organized by Pacific Whale Foundation, as part of its Making Waves Lecture Series. It is free and open to all.

The speakers include Hannah Bernard, President and co-founder of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund; Nicole Davis, NOAA Fisheries Maui Marine Mammal Response Coordinator; and Pat Wardell, President of Monk Seal Foundation .
 
One of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is endemic to Hawaii, meaning it is not found anywhere else on earth. Scientists estimate that the current total Hawaiian monk seal population includes 1,060 seals and is declining at a rate of 4.5% per year. They predict the species could become extinct in 50 to 100 years if the population decline isn't reversed.
 
Most of the population of Hawaiian Monk Seals lives in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, although a small and growing group is found around the main Hawaiian Islands. There is a low survival rate for juvenile seals born in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; fewer than one in every five survives to reproductive age.
 
The evenings presentations will feature two local nonprofits that are working to help save the seals, and the efforts of NOAA's Maui Marine Mammal Response Coordinator to protect seals that are hauled out and resting on Maui beaches. 
 
About the presenters:
Hannah Bernard is President and cofounder of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund. She is an award-winning marine biologist with 20 years of experience in conducting marine research, education and community outreach programs on protected marine wildlife. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund conducted monk seal research on Midway Atoll from 1997-2000 in the Northwest
Hawaiian Islands.Their data have been used by the National Marine Fisheries Service to assist in the recovery of this unique and endangered species. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund also coordinated the Monk Seal Watch on the island of Maui from 1996-2007.
 
Nicole Davis is the NOAA Fisheries Maui Marine Mammal Response Coordinator.
Davis holds a degree in marine biology from the University of California Santa Cruz. As the Maui Marine Mammal Response Coordinator, Davis responds to Hawaiian monk seals and stranded cetaceans, as well as manages public outreach and volunteer efforts to protect monk seals that are hauled out and resting on Maui beaches.
 
Pat Wardell is President and Co-founder of the Monk Seal Foundation, a Maui based nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the Hawaiian monk seal. The organization works with volunteers, government agencies, and other non-profits to both protect the monk seals and to engage and educate the public. Current efforts include the Hōʻike ā Maka Project, a collaborative research and outreach project which is studying monk seals in the Main Hawaiian Islands, and the Pu’uhonua Initiative, a capital campaign which is helping to raise the needed funds to build capacity to care for non-releasable seals.
 
"This is a great opportunity for members of the community and visitors to learn more about Hawaii's official state mammal," says Greg Kaufman, President of Pacific Whale Foundation. "We must all work together to save this critically endangered monk seal; now is the time to become informed on ways that we can each help."
 
Pacific Whale Foundation, the host of the Making Waves Lecture Series, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the oceans through science and advocacy. To learn more about Pacific Whale Foundation, please visit www.pacificwhale.org. 
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