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Team Hawaiian Monk Seal exceeds fund-raising goal in Maui Channel Swim

What can a six-pack of women swimmers accomplish? Plenty. In spite of tiger shark sightings, 10-foot-high ocean swells, and unusually brisk winds, Team Hawaiian Monk Seal fought Maui's Au Au Channel and enjoyed a salty taste of victory and a priceless sense of accomplishment. The swim helped raise public awareness for the plight of the highly endangered seals and raised a whopping $18,130 in donations, far exceeding the team's goal of 11K. The much needed funds will be used to support The Marine Mammal Center's on-going effort to raise funds to build an urgently needed hospital in Kona for injured, abandoned, and undernourished seals.

The swim

With some of the 52 teams quitting after the shark sightings, the remaining mix of international swimmers dared to continue the 10-mile Maui Channel Swim from Lana‘i to Black Rock on Ka‘anapali Beach. According to Cheryl Reiss, Public Relations Coordinator for The Marine Mammal Center, in Sausalito, CA, Team Hawaiian Monk Seal finished the grueling September 4, 2010 race in an admirable 7:30:09.

A swimming machine

The ocean swim was the perfect venue to bring attention to the imperiled Hawaiian monk seal, which is itself a virtual swimming machine. Weighing between 400 and 600 pounds, it can grow up to seven feet long, with females being larger than males. To propel its blubbery, yet, streamlined body through ocean currents, the seal uses its hind flippers. The front flippers act as stabilizers. Like other pinnipeds, the monk seal is able to significantly slow its heart rate. This enables it to use oxygen so efficiently that it can to dive to depths of 600 feet and stay submerged for 20 minutes without suffering any ill effects. But as good a swimmer as the monk seal is, they live in an environment fraught with dangers, and they need our help to survive.

The Hospital

Since there are no treatment centers in Hawai‘i for sick and injured seals, or ailing pups, an urgent care hospital would greatly increase the diminishing odds of the Hawaiian monk seal population by nursing many of these sick and injured animals back to health, and returning them to the ocean. The present number of seals is an astonishingly low 1,100 and falling at a frightening 4% annually. The Center wants to ensure that no seal is left behind; each one matters. And all of us can do our part to see that these seals do not go the way of the carrier pigeon and other now-extinct species.

How you can help save the Hawaiian monk seal

There are many ways you can get involved. To contribute and/or help the seals, 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.

Learn more about the Hawaiian monk seal program and urgent healthcare facility by visiting:

http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/about-us/organization-information/awareness-campaigns/save-the-hawaiian-monk-seal.html.
 

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