This adorable snoozing seal is one of only about 1,200 individuals left in the world.
The Hawaiian monk seal is the oldest known species of seal, first appearing somewhere around 11 million years ago. Found in the western most areas of the Hawaiian island archipelago, they were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century and early 20th century. Now, their numbers are critically low.
Thankfully, though, this year's pupping season saw an uptick in the number of baby seals born. We reported last month that, "Hawaiian monk seals had 121 new pups in 2014, according to scientists with the U.S. Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP). And since only 1,200 of the critically endangered marine mammals are left in the wild, that means this year's babies represent 10 percent of their entire species."
It is amazing and hopeful news for this critically endangered -- and supremely adorable -- marine mammal species.