The population of Hawaiian monk seals is on the rise.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at last check, there were about 1,400 monk seals, up 100 from last year’s total.
Officials say the increase is due to a number of factors, including rehabilitating starving seals, removing fish hooks, and saving them from fishing net entanglement.
“This is phenomenal and good news for the population,” said Dr. Charles Littnan of NOAA PIFSC Hawaiian Monk Seal Research, “yet we have a long way to go to recovery. Our recovery goals are roughly 3,400 animals across the entire archipelago, and we’re a little over a third of the way there.
“The population growth has slowed and kind of stabilized so we’re not seeing a further increase in the number of pups and this is not anything to be alarmed about. Populations can’t grow in perpetuity and so we’re thinking about this as sort of a gentle leveling out,” he added.
To celebrate the milestone, NOAA has also declared 2017 as “the year of the monk seal” and plans to hold special events to educate the public about the sea animals.