A demonstration was held Saturday at Kakaako Park showing how NOAA Fisheries are beginning routine vaccinations of wild Hawaiian monk seals on Oahu.

The effort is expected to continue into October.

Even though there is no disease outbreak affecting monk seals at this time, NOAA Fisheries has been working with partners to develop a plan of vaccinating the seals against moribillivirus.

The disease could possibly be passed to monk seals by unvaccinated dogs that contract distemper or from other marine mammals such as whales and dolphins or other wayward seal species.

Once introduced into seals, it is anticipated that the disease would spread rapidly by respiratory secretions.

Morbillivirus is widespread and outbreaks have caused the deaths of thousands of dolphins and seals in other parts of the world. Monk seals, in particular, are at risk due to a lack of immunity to morbillivirus, poor genetic diversity, small population abundance and the likely ease of spread of the disease once introduced.

And by the way, the seal depicted is not alive, but a model used for demonstration purposes.