Today I saw a Hawaiian monk seal, (Monachus schauinslandi). One of only two mammals native to the Hawaiian islands, this seal species is critically endangered. These are at the base of the seal evolutionary tree, and it’s an amazing privilege to spot one of these animals. It’s a big one, too, my guess is that the one we saw was upwards of 150 kgs.
This, together with the Bali Starling, is the rarest animal I have seen in many years of wildlife enthusiasm. What an exciting experience! My friend & dive buddy Russell Gilbert (many thanks to him!) took me out on a beach dive in Oahu, and the seal was right there, fifty meters or so from the beach. These animals can of course easily outswim the fastest human, but this one, it seemed, did not mind our presence. Rather, it came close to us, and checked out what strange creatures were swimming across its undersea hangout. Fantastic!