You might think you’re looking at a couple of pieces of driftwood on the sandy shores of Hawaii in this photo, but there’s actually a sleepy sea creature napping there, too.
A double take might be needed to spot the seal napping on — and perfectly blending in with — the black sand in the photo Haleakala National Park posted to Facebook on Nov. 14.
“Do you see what I see?” park officials said in the post. “A sleepy seal on the shores of the Kipahulu District!”
The Hawaiian monk seal, also known as ‘Īlioholoikauaua — “the dog that runs in rough waters” — was spotted on the ‘Ohe’o Gulch in October, officials said in the post.
The playful creatures get their name from the roll of fat on top of their round heads, which “give the appearance of a hood — just like a monk wears,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on its website.
Adults’ backs are dark gray or brown and their bellies are silver or tan, which explains why the seal camouflages so well with the sand as it lies on its back.
They can get up to 7 feet long and can weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, the NOAA said.
It’s one of two native mammals in Hawai’i, and one of the world’s most endangered species, officials said. There’s only about 1,400 left in the wild.
Monk seals are skilled hunters, but their young have very low survival rates because of declining food levels, and they rarely make it to reproductive age, officials said. They also get tangled in fishing gear or are eaten by Galapogos sharks at the seal’s largest breeding site in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
“They are solitary animals that spend most of their time at sea,” officials said. “You may find them catching some much-needed rest along the shoreline. It is important to allow them a significant amount of space to molt, rest, give birth, and care for their pups.”
Wildlife officials want park visitors to call the Marine Mammal Center at 808-292-2372 if anyone sees one out in the wild.