Here the Hawaiian monk seal pup is nine days old, and that frothy white mustache is milk. For the first five to seven weeks of its life, the pup’s sole source of food is its mother’s milk. While it fattens up, though, mom shrivels up. The entire time she spends on the beach nursing her pup, chasing off randy males and protecting her youngster from curious photographers like me, she does not eat. That’s because her food is deep in the ocean. Monk seals forage under rocks for food, averaging depths of 300 feet. The deepest recorded dive for a Hawaiian monk seal is an amazing 1,800 feet.
By the way, I use a 400 milimeter telephoto lens and stay behind fenced barriers as required by law. I also make sure to stay downwind of the seals, sit stationary and place myself out of their line of sight. My goal is to never disturb, disrupt or distract these highly-endangered seals. With patience, I capture some amazing images, which I will share with you, one a day, until the pup is weaned. So, check back regularly, or, better yet, sign up to receive my daily posts by email, so you won’t miss a one. It promises to be a fun time.