How far would you go to ensure the survival of Hawai‘i’s severely declining monk seal population? Would you brave the dangers of Maui’s Au Au Channel in the 10-mile Maui Channel Swim? Competitors from team “Hawaiian Monk Seal” would. Dedicated to the preservation of this highly endangered mammal found only in Hawai‘i, the women swimmers, sponsored by The Marine Mammal Center from Sausalito, CA, will compete this Saturday, September 4, 2010. Their goal is to support the Center’s on-going efforts to increase public awareness and raise funds for an urgently needed hospital in Kona for injured, abandoned, and undernourished seals.
About the swim
This swim is no slam dunk. With constantly changing, swift currents, tiger sharks, and Portuguese Man O’War, the swimmers face a daunting challenge. According to Cheryl Reiss, Public Relations Coordinator for The Marine Mammal Center, the swimmers will join 52 other teams and 20 solo swimmers from around the world, all with their own reasons for entering. The race, which originated in 1972, has become the world’s longest open water relay swim. Beginning at 8:00 a.m. from Lana‘i and culminating near Black Rock on the shoreline of Ka‘anapali, the winners will cross the finish line just before 11:00 a.m. The remainder of the athletes will arrive throughout the afternoon.
Why help is so urgently needed
• The 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals remaining are declining at a rate of 4% annually and are on a trajectory for extinction.
• The seal is found only in Hawai‘i and is the most endangered pinniped in U.S. waters.
• Their food sources are being depleted.
• Sharks pose a predatory danger, especially for young seals.
• There are no medical facilities in Hawai‘i for monk seals.
• Many sick, entangled, injured, and prematurely weaned pups are dying.
• Some females are giving birth to first pups abnormally late in life, which contributes to their already low survival rates.
• Pups have a dismal, one-in-five chance of surviving to adulthood.
• A monk seal healthcare facility in Kona would provide emergency medical care to sick and injured seals, and could help baby seals reach the age of three. This would increase their survival odds by 70%.
According The Center's public relations department: “The Marine Mammal Center is the world’s largest nonprofit veterinary hospital, research and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals, and has treated more than 16,000 marine mammals.” To have a facility in Hawai‘i operated by this dedicated team of professionals would go a long way in changing the fate of the monk seal population for this generation and those to come.
So, even if you can’t be there to cheer for team Hawaiian Monk Seal as they complete their noble mission, there are other ways to support the effort to help the seriously imperilled Hawaiian monk seal.
How you can help
To contribute and/or help team “Hawaiian Monk Seal” achieve their fundraising goal of $11K, go to: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/what-you-can-do/events/team-from-the-marine-mammal.html.
The site will explain how you can assist the seals, by “adopting” a seal, supporting Center events, becoming a member, and many other practical and fun ways to get involved. Act now, before the Hawaiian Monk Seal’s fate is forever sealed.
Learn more about the Hawaiian monk seal program and urgent healthcare facility by visiting: