Protection of the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal – Research Proposals

Qualitative Proposal: Attitudes and Fishing Techniques of Fishermen on the North Shore of Oahu and their Effects on Monk Seal Populations

Statement of the Problem

            The Hawaiian monk is the most endangered seal species in the United States and among the four types of seal species that live in the tropics. Currently, the species’ survival is at risk because of a range of negative factors which include shark predation and fishing. Human interference is particularly a significant factor owing to the increasing frequency of fishing activities in the Hawaiian Islands. The North Shore of Oahu provides optimal conditions for the survival of this rare species. Thus, it is necessary to examine the current human interference patterns in this area in order to determine the feasibility and essential measures needed to create a new successful colony in the region.

Research Questions

The main research questions for this qualitative study are:

  1. What are the standpoints of the local population on the survival of the monk seal in the North Shore of Oahu?
  2. What are the main motivations for fishing in the Oahu area?
  3. Which are the main fishing methods used in the North Shore of Oahu?
  4. What are the current regulations concerning the protection of marine life in the area, especially as regards the monk seal?

Purpose Statement

            The purpose of this study is to evaluate the background of the North Shore of Oahu with regard to the protection and existence of the Hawaiian monk seal. The study’s findings will contribute immensely to the efforts of creating a new colony of this species in the area. In particular, the results will reveal the main risks of survival and the current status of conservation efforts.

Literature Review

            The Hawaiian monk seal mainly breeds in the Hawaiian archipelago, although there is a record of a few number of births in the main Hawaiian Islands. Despite the slow pace of reproduction and a relatively low population, the monk species faces risks of extinction arising from commercial lobster fishing, longline fishing, marine debris, shark predation, and male aggression. Evidently, a majority of these factors are largely driven by human activities, which is why this study is necessary.

Researcher’s Influence and Ethical Concerns

            The role of the researcher in the research process will mainly revolve around administration of questionnaires and interviews to local residents, fisheries personnel, and hotel departments that engage in fishing within the Oahu area. They will also collect data from conservation experts and visit various sites to conduct observations. The research will be conducted with the consideration of the LOS articles 245 and 250 with a special request permit from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific affairs.

Research design

            This research will adopt a case study design through which the researcher will investigate conservation efforts and specific risks that jeopardize the survival of the Hawaiian monk seal in the North Shore of Oahu. The case study research design is qualitative in nature and has been applied in similar studies on archipelago marine research, human impacts on marine ecosystems, and other areas of marine biology. This approach is fitting in the context of this research as it will allow a large scope of data to be collected as well as enable the researcher to adapt ideas and produce novel hypothesis that can be used in future studies.

Data Collection and Analysis

            The study will involve in-depth examination of the Oahu North Shore area in the context of the Hawaiian monk seal survival. The research will collect data through direct observation, archival records, interviews, questionnaires, and participant observation since the study involves the comprehensive investigation of the locality. Study participants will be selected through quota sampling owing to the need of including participants with varying characteristics, such as fishermen, tourists, and locals. The collected data will be analyzed by use of pattern matching and categorization of information in various matrix categories.

Quantitative Proposal: Impacts of Great white shark populations on the survival of the monk seal: A case study of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands


            Shark predation is a major detrimental factor in the juvenile survival of the Hawaiian monk seal species. In particular, the Great White Shark poses a substantial threat to the subsistence of vulnerable pups that have not learned to avoid predators. Shark predation is especially common at the French Frigate shoals, which is among the largest atolls supporting the survival of seals. Even so, research concerning the effect of the presence of the Great White Shark in the Hawaiian waters on monk seal population is lacking. The purpose of this research study is to close this research gap by examining how Great White Shark population affects the survival of the monk seal. The following are the hypotheses that will guide the research:

  • An increase in the number of Great White Sharks results in a decrease in the number of monk seals in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
  • The presence of Great White Sharks in Hawaiian waters leads to decreased juvenile survival of the monk seal in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
  • The presence of Great White Sharks is negatively related to the lifespan of the monk seal in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

Materials and Methods

            This research will employ a descriptive research approach which will be correlational in nature. Correlational research utilizes two or more variables from the participant group which are potentially related. In this study, the researcher will use a dependent variable, an independent variable, and two control variables. The number of sharks will represent the independent variable while the number of monk seals will stand for the dependent variable. The two control variables will be represented by the availability of food and human interference through fishing. The data will be collected from various participants including, fishermen, conservation experts, hotel personnel, and local populations, and will include the number of shark and seal populations in specific areas, their estimated age, availability of food, and human interference data such as fishing frequency.

Expected Results

            The collected data will be organized in tables and analyzed through scatter plots and regression analysis. SPSS statistical package software will be used to screen for correlations between dependent and independent variables as well as the control variables. The findings will then be represented in tables, histograms, and charts in relation the results obtained in the quantitative analysis process.


            The results of the regression analysis will be interpreted through regression coefficients to show correlation. The researcher will utilize graphical analysis and quantitative analysis of residuals as well as via the R2 coefficient of determination to test validity and ensure the accuracy of the results (Keller 699). A negative relationship between the independent and dependent variable will translate to the conclusion that the number of sharks can contribute to the annihilation of the monk seal. However, the study will face limitations with regard to data collection and the scope of discussions. Regardless of the chosen data collection methods, there is a possibility that the integration of other methods would have increased the depth of the analyses. Additionally, the researcher’s limited experience in the field of research could compromise the nature and depth of the study. These limitations can be resolved by the use of various control measures and the utilization of measures of validity. In general, the results of this research are crucial to the conservation of the Hawaiian monk seal and are a vital resource in the conservation efforts of all seals worldwide.

Mixed Methods Proposal: Effects of Human Activities and Predation on Monk Seal Survival in the Hawaiian Islands


            The Hawaiian monk seal faces the risk of extinction in consequence of shark predation and bad human fishing practices. Despite the significant conservation efforts and decades-long multi-disciplinary research, the future survival of this species is still fragile and only about 1400 monk seals remain to date. Existing monk seal populations are largely divided into subdomains which exist in different parts of the Hawaiian Islands, but each faces the risk of annihilation. This necessitates further examination of the survival of the species. In this study, the researcher explores the effects of predation and human activities on the existence and reproduction of the Hawaiian monk seal by use of a mixed methods approach. A mixed methods approach is a research design that integrates both qualitative and quantitative methods of research (Creswell 228). The use of mixed methods in this research is essential because the relationships drawn from the quantitative analysis of variables will need to be substantiated through examination of qualitative data. The research purposely aims at examining the current ecological status of the Hawaiian seal and the factors that can be adjusted to ensure its future survival. The following research problems represent the focus of the research:

  • What is the effect of predation on monk seal populations
  • How does human fishing practices affect monk seal populations
  • What factors affect the subsistence of monk seal populations in the Hawaiian Islands?


            The research will utilize explanatory and exploratory research designs. The exploratory design will involve the use interviews to understand the perceptions of various parties concerning the Hawaiian seal and its survival as well as the identification of the underlying relationships between relationships. On the other hand, the explanatory strategy will encompass the collection and analysis of quantitative data followed by analysis of qualitative data. The following diagram illustrates the methods design.

The researcher will analyze the collected data by use of correlation and multiple regression analysis. Correlation will be used to establish relationship between the variables while the regression analysis will be utilized in the evaluation of the impact of human practices and predation on the survival of the monk seal. The study will also make use of descriptive statistics such as Breush Godfrey test, heteroskedasity test, multicollinearity, and non-normality to describe the data and draw conclusions. After conducting the quantities analysis, the research will use a qualitative analysis to draw justifications of the identified relationships. The obtained results will finally serve as an answer to the research questions. 


            The findings of the research will comprise of quantitative and qualitative outcomes. In order to validate the mixed results, the researcher will use a range of statistical tools to test validity. They will also compare the results of the quantitative methods with those of obtained from qualitative interviews to draw definitions. The main limitation in the study will be study design and instruments as the researcher is not experienced in the field of research and is bound to select methods that are not optimal for the type of study. Even so, the use of mixed methods was beneficial in eliminating bias and errors. In summary, the discussion section of this research highlights the effects of shark predation and fishing practices on monk seal populations and the underlying explanations. These results are instrumental in conservations programs as it is necessary to comprehend the major factors that ensure the survival of this rare species.

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