Today on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, a rare
and endangered seal in Hawaii. Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! Seals and Sea Lions are among the ocean’s
most endearing creatures. Their antics and appearance often remind me of undersea puppy
dogs, and sometimes these playful animals interact with divers. Most seals and sea lions live in the cool
water of temperate seas, or the frigid water of the polar regions. The so-called Monk seals are the only seals
that live in the tropics. And I have come all the way to a remote part of Hawaii to
meet this incredibly rare animal: the Hawaiian Monk Seal. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is critically endangered.
There are less than 1,200 animals left. The rugged coast of the Hawaiian Islands might
seem like a perfect place for seals, but these famously shy animals are rarely seen in the
main Hawaiian Islands. On the island of Kaua’i, I’m up before
sunrise for an adventure that will take me out to sea all day. I’m joining Fathom Five Divers to make a long
trip over to a remote island where just a few Monk seals are known to live. We leave the dock for a two hour crossing
to Ni’ihau—the Forbidden Island. It’s a beautiful morning in Hawaii, but this
trip is rarely flat calm. Two hours later, we approach Ni’ihau and
a smaller island next to it called Lehua Rock. The remains of an ancient volcano, Lehua Rock
is an uninhabited island. It’s a protected bird sanctuary, and home to a small group
of Hawaiian Monk seals that are known to be curious about divers. As we approach and anchor the boat, I am on
the lookout for any seals. We have come to a spot where they are frequently seen, but
there are no guarantees in nature. But I don’t have to wait long. A curious
Monk seal comes right over to give us a look. But the real question is, will he allow me
to film him underwater? I gear up for what could be the greatest dive
of my life, or the most boring, depending on what happens. I drop into the water, grab my camera, and
sink towards the bottom, where I look around for a Monk seal. The volcanic rock has been deposited in layers,
producing a beautiful vertical drop-off made even more spectacular by the excellent visibility. I can hear a strange sound in the distance,
but I can’t tell where it’s coming from. Soon I find the source of the sound: a male
monk seal floating in mid-water vocalizing. The most important part of filming any marine
mammal is never to swim to it, but let it come to you. There’s no way I can out-swim
a seal, nor am I likely to sneak up on it. So my best chance at getting close to this
animal is to wait and see if it gets curious about me. So far however, he seems much more
interested in vocalizing. Nobody is quite sure what the vocalizing is
about, but it seems to be unrelated to my presence. It has been suggested that this
is a form of mating call from the male to any nearby females. One of the problems for the recovery of this
species is the fact that there are far more males than females. Finding a female in the
vastness of the ocean, is not easy. I try to act like I’m doing something else,
in the hope that the seal will grow curious, but finally I have to leave the water because
I’m getting low on air. Well, that was really interesting! We had
one seal that was coming around us—not too close—but taking a look at the camera and
then going off into the blue and vocalizing…making that sort of growling sound….Grrrrr. And that vocalization hopefully will lead
to this: finding a mate. In their leisure time, Monk seals like to
play in the surf together. It looks like fighting, but usually nobody gets hurt. This couple is on their way to mating. The remote coasts of Kaua’i, Ni’ihau and
Molokai conceal isolated beaches devoid of human encroachment. These are the places that
Monk seals seek out to give birth to their pups. Human encroachment is one of the main threats
facing the recovery of the Hawaiian Monk seal population. And Tiger sharks are a big threat to the pups
just learning to swim. A mother Monk seal usually gives birth to
only one pup, which is totally dependent on her care for about a month an a half. During
that time, she gives her pup milk and swimming lessons Unfortunately, only 20% of newborn pups make
it to their second birthday. This high mortality is the reason that the Hawaiian Monk seal
is having such a hard time making a comeback from hundreds of years of hunting. Of course, now the Hawaiian Monk seal is on
the endangered species list and protected from hunting throughout its entire range. The Caribbean Monk seal was not so lucky.
It was hunted into extinction. The last living animal was seen in 1952. Hopefully the efforts to protect and rehabilitate
the Hawaiian Monk seal population are not too late. Back at the boat, while everyone else has
lunch, I decide to do a little snorkeling to check out the reef in the shallows. While
floating there looking at the fish, guess who has snuck up on me? A Monk seal’s natural curiosity has brought
him over for a look at the awkward floating human. He seems like he is just taking a rest
at the surface. Maybe all that vocalizing gets tiring. He looks right into my camera
lens. Clearly he is curious about me or my camera. I float in the water for half an hour, as
the seal repeatedly pops his nose above the surface for a breath of air. Finally, with one last breath, he dives about
50 feet down…and starts to vocalize again. Soon, it’s time for another scuba dive, so
I head to the boat and gear up. Cameraman Todd and I hit the water, and swim
down to the reef. Almost immediately, the seal comes over to
greet us, swimming right past Todd. He swims right down to me and floats gently
above the bottom. He can see me clearly, because the eyes of a seal are designed to work underwater.
Seals have blurry vision on land, but crystal clear down here. Soon the seal starts rubbing his back on the
rocks. Even a seal likes a back scratch! He doesn’t mind my presence at all. Or maybe he just thinks the lens on my camera
produces a nice reflection of him self. His big whiskers do more than make him look cute.
They help him hunt fish. They are sensitive to vibrations in the water, and detect movement
at close range in the dark. As I continue to observe, the seal goes back
to vocalizing right in front of me! He brings the air up from his lungs into his throat,
then exhales the bubbles afterwards. But I have no idea how he made that sound! Seals are mammals and breathe air, so after
a few minutes, he needs to head to the surface for a breath. While swimming back to the boat, I notice
a Sandbar shark swimming through the area. I wonder if it will frighten the seal away.
However, much to my surprise, the seal in fact swims over to check out the shark, then
goes back to vocalizing. It is the shark that swims away! Wow, that is a first! A shark and a seal on
the same dive in the same shot! How cool is that?? I’ll never forget my adventure with my new
friend, the Hawaiian Monk seal. I certainly hope that all that vocalizing pays off and
he finds himself a girlfriend. The future of the Hawaiian Monk seal depends on it.

100 thoughts on “Hawaiian Monk Seals | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. I was so scared that they were going extant 😭 but I looked and this vid was made in 2014 and I was so relieved 😊😖😅

  2. the fact that he doesn't attach himself to his $60,000 camera while diving makes me so ridiculously anxious for him

  3. The poor carribean monk seal. hopefully they can grow their population, they have the face of a puppy! who wants to hunt that!?

  4. For an overview check out "Days 1-50 in the life of an Hawaiian Monk Seal" 3:41:30 Documenting Pup Rearing Behavior not seen in most other seals. May be in the sidebar.

  5. This show reminds me of something that would come on the PBS kids show after an episode of wild Kats goes off 😂.

  6. Did anyone else see that shark at 9:19–9:22 it was on the bottom right corner

    20 seconds later he pointed it out

  7. The Mediterranean monk seal is in even bigger trouble with 700 remaining but no one talks about them because their environment is not a catchy American tourist destination that would profit from the exposure

  8. Aloha Jonathan Bird! Here's a quick, new video with a monk seal. Thought the monk seal fans might like to see it! Mahalo

  9. Other Seals: There's a shark, get out of the water!
    Hawaiian Monk Seal: Oh look a shark, I want to check it out!

  10. Hello Blue World Team, you all are my and my son's absolute favourite nature channel, ever! Thank you so much for all the awesomeness!! <3

  11. If the hawaiian monk seal is the only seal that lives in the tropics does that mean the Galapagos islands aren't tropical? Cause they have seals

  12. Wow…if i could only afford a diving apparatus then i'd rather explore the underwaters its really beautiful…credits to the maker Godbless

  13. Wow…if i could only afford a diving apparatus then i'd rather explore the underwaters its really beautiful…credits to the maker Godbless

  14. I keep loving these Seal themed videos, and hope your channel brings awareness to the beauty and importance of marine wildlife preservation.

  15. I think he was talking to you Jonathan…he realized you come from the surface and I think he was saying something to you guys over and over while you were in the water. i am not sure what he was saying but I would be surprised if he has not seen divers before and was talking with them as well.

  16. We saw a couple of seals when we camped on Kauai. Both times someone eventually showed up and put up a yellow tape corral to warn people away from the seal. The seals seemed pretty mellow and I could imagine how they could be hunted right on shore. I’m glad we mostly do our hunting with cameras today.

  17. He probably came to yall seeking protection from that shark at 9:20! Hes like… "Oh Jeez, a shark. Sharks dont like bubbles, bubble people! Perfect. 😊

  18. I went to Molokai this past summer and it was spectacular. I went snorkeling. I also went to the Galápagos Islands in 2014 and that was my most memorable trip ever. Have you ever been to the Galapagos?

  19. Do Hawaiian Monk Seals attract Great White Sharks to Hawaii? That's what I'd like to know. The last fatal Great White Shark attack in Hawaii was in 1926.

  20. Seal: Hi mini sharky!!! Any good fish round here???
    Sharky: AAARRRGGGHHH!!! SEAL!!! swims the heck out of there
    Awww!!! So cute & hope the monk seals do build up in population again!!!

  21. You know,i love your humorous! You concentrate on explain very clearly what happens.and you have great knowledge about animals. I love that way you invest in your videos,it's perfect. Your videos approach perfection!

  22. What a privilege to be so near to both Niihau and Monk Seals!

    I'm from Hawaii and I've never been near Niihau.

  23. That Shark was way too small to attack the Seal. I'm surprised the Seal didn't try to kill the shark. In Cape Cod where I used to visit during the summer, there's a large Gray Seal population that travels up and down Nauset Light Beach every day. You'll see them pop their heads up. One day I found two lower half's (second dorsal fin to tail) of two separate Spiny Dogfish. I'm guessing both Dogfish and Seals eat the same food, so the Seals kill them because their a competitor for food. I thought it would be a similar situation in Hawaii, but I guess not.

  24. I guess that the Navy is going to have to either let girls be seals or just turn him back into a person. Poor guy. Look! They are doing Jiu-jitsu.

  25. "I feel heartbroken when I realize that people become so blinded by money, they're willing to harm an innocent creature such as this!"

  26. Wow so cute 😘👏👏👏
    Huge thanks Sir Jonathan for bringing us on a deep crystal clear water with a beautiful seal🙏

  27. I am curious? When the Hammer nose sharks comes and hits your camera. Are you being British and toasting the beginning of this episode? Love to see this and the last episode on seals. Keep up the good work. Bringing a beauty and wonder about our world.

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