Increased federal funding planned for endangered Hawaiian monk seal

By Coco Zickos – The Garden Island

LIHU‘E — In response to conservation efforts for America’s most endangered marine mammal, Hawai‘i is expected to receive some $5.7 million for fiscal year 2009 to support the NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Plan.

The funding marks a $3.6 million increase over last year’s amount.

Monk seals are currently “red listed,” said Dr. Mimi Olry, who heads the Marine Mammal Stranding Network on Kaua‘i and serves as the island’s Hawaiian monk seal coordinator.

The listing means they are a critically endangered species and face an extreme risk of extinction, she said.

With only about 1,100 remaining, unless greater efforts are taken the Hawaiian monk seal may soon follow in the footsteps of the Caribbean monk seal’s untimely extinction.

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