WASHINGTON (CN) – New research on the Hawaiian monk seal reveals a need to expand the habitat for the mammal protected under the Endangered Species Act, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Scientific research, particularly on the seal’s foraging habits, calls for a need to expand the area to potentially include key beach areas, sand spits and islets, according to a report on the NMFS’s year-long review of the situation. The expanded area also could include all beach crest vegetation, lagoon waters, inner reef waters, and ocean waters out to a depth of 200 meters, on and around the main Hawaiian Islands. The agency has notified the public that it is time to comment on its findings.
The agency also is considering expanding designated critical habitat in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to include Sand Island at Midway, and ocean waters out to a depth of 500 meters.
The NMFS is acting in response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and Ocean Conservancy which requested that the areas be expanded.