Hawaiian monk seal released after successful hook removal surgery

Local News

Following a successful surgery and recovery, a Hawaiian monk seal was released back into the wild.

RE-74 is a 12-year-old Hawaiian monk seal born on Kipu Kai Beach on the island of Kauai.

He was discovered at White Plains Beach on Dec. 29 with a fishing line coming out of his mouth.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration staff and volunteers captured and sedated him.

An endoscopy revealed a hook was embedded in his stomach.

A team of veterinarians performed surgery on New Year’s Eve to remove a large circle hook and fishing line.

After a quick recuperation, on Jan. 9, RE-74 passed his exit medical exam and was fitted with a satellite tag for post-release monitoring. He was released Friday morning.

“He was actually a cranky patient, if I may be anthropomorphic,” said David Schofield, Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator. “He was ready to go, we were ready for him to go, so we got clearance from Washington D.C. to be able to release him back to the wild.”

Schofield says the administration sees about 12 to 15 “seal hookings” a year, but RE-74 was an unusual case.

“Most of them are superficial and they’re in the lip and we can restrain the seal on the beach and remove the hook there,” he said. “Surgeries have only been done on a few occasions. It’s a very rare event when the seal actually swallows the fish hook.”

If you think you’ve hooked a seal, NOAA urges you to call its hotline at 888-256-9840.

The earlier they can get to an animal, the greater its chance for survival.

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