WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Marine Fisheries Service kicked its final revision of critical habitat for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal back six months, after discovering the scientific community disagrees about just what the seal needs to flourish.
Last year the service proposed extending the critical habitat of the species, after new scientific studies indicated that the seals forage for food at greater ocean depths than previously thought.
However, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and others strongly criticized the scope of the proposal and questioned accuracy of the biological features the NMFS identified as critical to the survival of the species.
The NMFS said that it will work with the state to examine the data it used to determine that the foraging needs of the monk seal were less extensive than the proposed revision provided.
The NMFS said that over the last two years it has released twenty monk seals tagged with GPS transmitters around the main Hawaiian Islands and that the information provided from tracking the animals should make clear the extent of their foraging needs.
The new final revision date is Dec. 2.
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