HONOLULU — Researchers say an endangered Hawaiian monk seal has made an exceptionally fast and long swim across the archipelago.
The 6-year-old female seal made her way from Kure Atoll in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the North Shore of Oahu — a trip of about 1,300 miles. She made the grueling swim in only a month, landing on Oahu sometime last week.
Michelle Barbieri, NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program chief, said there is data that shows more than a dozen seals have made trips from the remote northern islands to the main islands in recent decades.
“What’s impressive about (this seal) is she made the trip in about a month, where other seals are more likely to make it over the course of several years,” Barbieri said in a statement Monday.
Researchers don’t yet have a full view of the species’ movements.
“A 2015 study, looking back 30-years, shows seals mostly moving between neighboring islands and less often long distances,” she said. “The ability of these animals to island-hop is what has allowed them to colonize new areas over time.”
There are about 1,400 monk seals left in the wild. About 1,100 live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.