HONOLULU (KHON2) — NOAA Fisheries on Wednesday announced the passing of 19-year-old Hawaiian monk seal RE74, also known as “Benny,” after his body was found at Mokuleia on June 17.
Benny overcame a number of challenges in life and contributed in many ways to NOAA’s research.
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Born on Kauai in 2002, Benny spent the first few years on the Garden Island before becoming a regular on Oahu. He was commonly sighted at Kaena Point, Mokuleia, Turtle Bay, Manana Island, Ala Moana, Ewa Beach, Nanakuli and Pokai Bay.
Benny was the first Hawaiian monk seal whose genome was sequenced, and one of the first monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands to be fully vaccinated against the potentially fatal virus phocine morbillivirus, according to NOAA Fisheries. Benny helped researchers gain a deeper understanding of genetic factors associated with the disease and how monk seals adapt to specific environments.
In 2014, and again in 2016, NOAA Fisheries performed life-saving surgeries to remove fishing hooks Benny had ingested. He was hooked a total of nine times over the course of his life.
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NOAA is still waiting for tissue sample analysis to determine a clear cause of death.