Caia Koopman, "Monk"
Species of the month
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Critically endangered (IUCN 3.1)
"I really enjoyed the opportunity to express my concern for rapidly disappearing and critically endangered species in my painting "Monk" for PangeaSeed. My painting portrays the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk seal while the female character symbolizes the souls of a shrinking population and seals past. I believe strongly that we humans, all living things and even the planet itself are intrinsically connected.
When humans are the main cause of a species becoming extinct, even unknowingly, I believe a small part of ourselves dies along with a part of the global ecosystem. In my painting entitled "Monk" the female character represents all humans who are then connected to all life making her and the seal interchangeable. Her ghostlike aura illustrates the near extinction peril of the Hawaiian Monk seal.
The Hawaiian name for the monk seal is Ilio holo I ka uaua, or "dog that runs in rough water" and this is at the center of my piece. This beautiful streamline seal has short hairs on its head earning it its common name for resembling a monk. I particularly love the haunting beauty of the monk's large black eyes and this makes the saying that seals are just dog mermaids so believable.
The Hawaiian Monk seal has an especially small population of only about 1,100 and are threatened by many things including entanglement in fishing nets, loss of habitat and past commercial hunting for their skins.
I have also included in this painting an endangered Ae'o or Hawaiian Stilt, and the I'iwi, which is a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper of which there are many species and many are already extinct. I hope there will be more cooperation in the world to protect the species we have left and to give back habitat rather than the continuous push by humans to take for ourselves and not share."
You can help save monk seals
Donate to organization working to raise awareness and research such as PangeaSeed, The Marine Mammal Center, Marine Conservation Institute etc.
Advocate stronger global and regional action to protect seals and other marine mammals.
Support the establishment and protection of marine protected areas (MPAs).
Recommend ecotourism and dive or snorkel with seals - but remember to look and DO NOT touch these animals. This offers sustainable monetary alternatives to destructive fishing methods.
Think twice before you buy. Do not support the trade of seal furs and marine mammal products and try to reduce your carbon footprint.
Educate yourself, friends and family on the issues facing monk seals and other endangered ocean animals. Act NOW if we wish to save our seas.