What Do Hawaiian Monk Seals Eat?

  • Hawaiian monk seals are “generalist” feeders, which means they eat a variety of foods depending on what’s available.
  • They eat many types of common fishes, squid, octopus, eels and crustaceans (crabs, shrimp and lobster). Diet studies indicate that they prefer prey that is easier to catch than most of the locally popular game fish (e.g. ulua, papio and oio). Hawaiian monk seals have never been observed hunting pelagic fish, such as mahi-mahi, ahi, aku, etc.
  • Monk seals are primarily “benthic” foragers (bottom feeders), eating a variety of prey including fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. Their diet varies by location, sex, and age. Monk seals generally hunt for food outside of the immediate shoreline areas in waters 60-300 feet (18-90 m) deep. Monk seals are also known to forage deeper than 1,000 feet (330 m), where they prey on eels and other benthic organisms.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
– Martin Buber (Philosopher, 1878-1965)

Learn more information about the Hawaiian monk seal diet.