Inspiration – Water
Hawai‘ian Monk Seal, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i
casein, 36 x 12 inches
The monk seal is named for its folds of skin that somewhat resemble a monk’s cowl, and because it is usually seen alone or in small groups. Hawaiians call the seal `Ilio holo I ka uaua, which means, “dog that runs in rough water.” Like the other species of warm-water monk seals, the Mediterranean and Caribbean monk seals, the Hawaiian monk seal has a tenuous grasp on survival. The Caribbean monk seal, in fact, is believed to have been extinct since the 1970s. Humans have moved into many of the desirable coastal habitats that these animals once frequented, so open coastline is at a premium. Monk seals have also been victims of fisheries, though they are usually accidental bycatch and not a targeted species. Sharks also prey on these seals, and males sometimes kill females of their own species in group attacks called“mobbing.” Today, Hawaiian monk seals are threatened and, although many protection efforts are in place, their numbers have continually dwindled over the years. Hawaiian monk seals have one of the highest documented entanglement rates of any pinniped species, and pups and juve- niles are the most often entangled. Marine debris and cast-off fishing gear are chronic forms of pollution affecting monk seal habitat, particularly in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The monk is a creature of land, sea, air and light; a true inspiration.