HONOLULU (KHON2) — A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal is safe and recovering after ocean wildlife officials removed a large circle hook from its esophagus, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.
The monk seal, also identified as RL72, was first spotted on March 30 along Kapalua Oneloa Beach on Maui. NOAA Fisheries reported he had about three to four feet of monofilament line coming from his mouth, which showed he might have eaten a hook.
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A team of ocean wildlife officials used wooden shields called “crowding boards” to get the monk seal into a special seal carrier. Then, the team had to go through the beach’s long and narrow boardwalk while carrying the seal’s cage.
However, the last bit of the route was a staircase that was too narrow to fit the cage, but NOAA Fisheries stated a nearby property owner allowed the team to go through a locked section near the stairs in order to get to their vehicle.
The next day, the monk seal was transported to Ke Kai Ola on the Big Island. On April 7, a veterinary team at The Marine Mammal Center performed surgery on the seal to remove the large circle hook.
NOAA Fisheries added that the monk seal was “stable, comfortable and alert.” It will be given antibiotics, fluids and pain medications as part of the recovery process.
Blood samples from the monk seal showed no signs of illness or disease. It is unknown when the animal will be released, but he will be regularly assessed as he remains in recovery.
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Those who see a seal, whether they need help or not, should contact the statewide NOAA Marine Hotline at (888) 256-9840.