As of 2014, there are two remaining species of monk seal in the world: the Hawaiian monk seal and the Mediterranean monk seal, both named for the places where they live. A third species, the Caribbean monk seal, was last sighted in 1952 and is considered extinct. Monk seals are unusual in that, unlike most other seals, they prefer a warmer climate with temperate waters and sandy beaches.
Monk seals are named for the folds of their skin, which can resemble the draping hood of a real monk's garb. Their name also refers to the fact that these seals are often seen alone or in smaller groups. Monk seals spend most of their time in the water, hunting and foraging for fish, lobster and eel in the coral reefs, but they do come ashore to sleep or to use the vegetation close to the water as protection from storms. These seals are also very devoted to their young and spend the first days of their new pups' life in constant contact with them, even forgoing their own food and losing hundred of pounds in the process.
Both species of monk seals still remaining are considered critically endangered species. As of August 2014, the Mediterranean monk seal, with fewer than 600 of its kind remaining, is considered the rarest pinniped species; the Hawaiian monk seal has approximately 1,100 remaining of its kind.