Monk seal scars

Monk seal scars

Monk seal with scarsThese are older photos, but still interesting to me. I spotted this monk seal one day, not too far from a second seal that is a regular around the Big Island.

The top photo shows some lighter marking on the side of the seal, below and behind the two dark marks. This lighter marking is bleaching, which is applied to seals when possible, to help researchers monitor the population and keep track of their travels. The bleaching only lasts a year as seals molt annually. In addition to the bleaching, most seals have red tags placed in their rear flippers, to help identify them. It can be a hit and miss method as these photos show. This seal has tags in both flippers, but they were never visible to me.

The other interesting thing is those two dark circles on the seal’s back. They’re made by cookiecutter sharks. Cookiecutter sharks are small dogfish sharks, less than two feet in length. They feed by gouging round plugs, hence the name, out of larger creatures such as monk seals.

Cookiecutter sharks live in the deep ocean during the day, sometimes at depths over two miles. At dusk they rise up toward the surface, before descending to the depths again around daybreak. Another reason not to go swimming at night.

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7 thoughts on “Monk seal scars

    • I don’t think the cookiecutter sharks are a danger to something as big as a monk seal. More of an irritant. Most of the monk seals around here sports scars of one kind or another, from encounters with everything from sharks to boats.

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    • Yes, it’s fine to swim here. As I mentioned in another response, many creatures in the ocean will bite, day or night, but only if you bother them. So I look at them, take photos, and leave them be. My guess is that if I ever do get bitten it will be because of an encounter with something I didn’t realize was there.

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    • The truth is, there are many creatures in the ocean that will bite, day or night. It’s just that most of them don’t unless you really bother them. So I try not to be too intrusive and I don’t worry about bites too much.

      Liked by 1 person

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