Climate Change and Hawaiian Monk Seals by Defenders of Wildlife

President Bush designated the Hawaiian monk seal's habitat--a remote archipelago northwest of Hawaii--as a marine national monument in 2006. Unfortunately, three-quarters of the islands in that sanctuary could be underwater before the end of the century thanks to global warming.

Less than 50 years ago, one of the seals' chief breeding and resting places--a group of low-lying islets called French Frigate Shoals--covered more than 110 acres. Today, only about 40 acres are left.

As beaches disappear under rising seas, there are fewer safe places for the endangered seals to escape from sharks. As a result, more pups and juveniles are dying. Further loss of habitat, researchers warn, "can only be expected to exacerbate an already lamentable situation."

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