The Green Leaf

One by one, Hawaiian monk seals

June 17th, 2014

Every day, dedicated scientists and volunteers are working to save endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

Most recently, Monk Seal Foundation volunteers, NOAA staff and a fisherman helped catch RN58, or Luana on Oahu, to get a hook out of her throat. A vet team managed to get the hook out, and Luana was released June 12.

Now there's a documentary film, "One by One: The Struggle to Save Hawaiian Monk Seals" to tell the story about these kinds of efforts as well as to educate the public about monk seals, in the works. An indiegogo campaign seeks to raise $30,000 by Aug. 15.

Filmmakers Andrew and Robin Eitelberg, a husband-and-wife team that studied film at UC Berkeley,  have been working with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. The film has been in the works for more than a year, but needs additional funding to be completed. Contributions go toward video and audio equipment, travel, editing, graphics and animation and film festival submission fees.

Fewer than 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals remain, with their numbers in decline.

Hawaiian monk seal snoozing. Courtesy One by One,

Hawaiian monk seal snoozing. Courtesy One by One,

To put it into perspective, there are more sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco (though they mysteriously disappeared for a few years) than Hawaiian monk seals in the world. The Eitelbergs say today, one of the monk seals' biggest threats is lack of awareness.

"This species is completely native to Hawaii, and one of a kind. It witnessed the Hawaiian islands rising from the ocean and has been a symbol of Hawaii’s diverse ecosystem for millions of years–and many people still have no idea that it exists. Unless the world is made aware of these seals and the brave efforts to protect them, they will slip quietly into extinction. We can’t hope that someone else will step in and turn this around: it’s up to us, and time is running out."

>> Pledge $25 or more and receive an HD download of "One by One."

>> Pledge $50 or more and download "Sounds of Hawaii," an album of mesmerizing MP3 audio portraits of Hawaii's  natural beauty.

>> Pledge $100 ore more and receive a One by One T-shirt to help spread the word about the Hawaiian monk seal, plus a download of the documentary and soundscapes, and your name on One by One's website. The first 20 donors at this level get a bonus of a signed copy of Makana's latest album.

>> Pledge $250 or more, and receive a limited edition 5x7 Monk Seal Photo Print plus a download of the documentary and soundscapes. And your name on the website.

>> Pledge $2,500 and shadow a monk seal responder on Oahu, plus get a family pass to the Waikiki Aquarium, 2 T-shirts, download of the film and soundscapes plus your name in the credits.

You can also offer room and board, transportation, your talents as a graphic designer. Email

2 Responses to “One by one, Hawaiian monk seals”

  1. Charles Moon:

    Monk Seals are not endemic to Hawaii. There are no ledgends or Meles from the native Hawaiians no remains found with the exception of 1 possible set of remains. Also the deaths of Monk Seals are (vast majority) in the NW uninhabited islands. This could be Darwin's way of strongest servive. Please put you're energy in helping our hungry distressed childern instead

  2. Nina Wu:

    Monk seals are endemic to Hawaii, meaning found nowhere else in the world. I sincerely hope that they will still be around so that children, like my son, will have the opportunity to see and appreciate them for generations to come. Many seals are are also dying because of the marine debris we have created, resulting in an unhealthy ocean for animals and humans alike.

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