Latest Hawaiian monk seal death brings total to 14 that have died from parasite found in cat feces

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RK40 nosing around in the sand. (Courtesy: DLNR/L. Macpherson)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — NOAA Fisheries on Monday determined the cause of death for the 3-year-old Hawaiian monk seal who was found at a beach near Camp Erdman on Oahu’s north shore in March.

RK40, also known as Hinakokea or Napua, died from a widespread toxoplasmosis infection. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that enters the environment through cat feces. Hinakokea’s death now brings the total to 14 Hawaiian monk seals that have died from this disease.

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Ten of those deaths were female monk seals. Since more monk seals disappear than are found dead, NOAA Fisheries said it’s likely that toxoplasmosis has caused many more deaths.

According to a recent study, toxoplasmosis mortalities are limiting monk seal population growth in the main Hawaiian Islands. To prevent the disease from impacting these endangered animals, cat owners should make an effort to keep their pets indoors.

Hinakokea’s name was gifted to her by 4th grade students at Hauʻula Elementary School. She was known to frequent the stretch of coastline between Kaʻena Point and Mokulēʻia.

To report all seal sightings, including sick or injured monk seals, call the NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline at (888) 256-9840

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