- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - All of the Hawaiian monk seals born this year on Oahu are doing well, a wildlife official said.

Four monk seal pups, two male and two female, were born between May and July, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

All four are doing “normal seal things, learning to forage and cruising around,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ecologist Stacie Robinson said.

The star of the bunch, Kaimana, has gained a celebrity status because of her rare birth in Waikiki. She was relocated to a more secluded part of Oahu in August shortly after being weaned. She is in the company of a few other monk seals, both adult and juvenile.

A total of 18 pups - nine on Molokai, four on Oahu, four on Kauai and one on Hawaii island - were born this year. Three perished, leaving 15 survivors.

On the island of Niihau, 20 pups were born this year.

Hawaiian monk seals were listed as an endangered species in 1976. They are protected by state and federal laws. About 1,400 seals remain in Hawaii.

Population numbers were in continual decline because of numerous challenges - habitat loss, marine debris entanglement and, in a few cases, human-inflicted harm. But the tide turned five years ago, when the population recorded a 3 percent growth rate per year from 2013 to 2016.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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