A group of scientists just returned from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where they helped with the recovery of the Hawaiian monk seal.
There is only 1,100 of the endangered mammal in the world.
"I'm a scientist, so I can't talk about how cute they are, but they are," said Charles Littman, lead scientist of NOAA's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program.
Fresh back from an annual monk seal field camp, Littman had good and bad news for the monk seal population.
105 pups were born this year. That's the lowest amount recorded since these field camps began 29 years ago.
But, Littman says, on a brighter note, the juvenile survival rate is up.
"Last three years have been pretty good for juvenile survival so, hopefully, we'll have new young moms show up in the next few years," said Littman.
The scientists on these camps work to monitor and recover Hawaiian monk seals. The key is keeping them healthy and safe from predators, especially sharks.
Littman says they are working with a dewormer, much like the ones you give puppy dogs, that will keep these monk seal pups healthy.
Relocating mammals has been successful. Two recently weaned female pups the team transferred from the French Frigate Shoals, where sharks were a problem, to Laysan Island 360 miles away.
Littman says the weaners, as they are called, adapt easily to their new, safer home tripling their chance of survival.
Another threat, one that is man-made, is entanglement. Littman says they had feared the worst with the expected arrival of tsunami debris, but it has yet to come.
They had the potential to transfer several other weaning pups, but they ran out of time.
Past field camps lasted four to six months. But, because of budget cuts, this year's camp was only seven weeks long.
Littman is hopeful they can get the funding returned to the program in the near future.