NOAA prepares to vaccinate monk seals

News

NOAA researchers are coming up with a plan to protect the monk seal population in case of a disease outbreak.

That plan includes teaching scientists how to vaccinate monk seals from a common virus that appears in marine mammals.

The three-day drill allows researchers the chance to simulate an actual vaccination from start to finish.

There are about 1,100 monk seals left in the wild. Researchers say their population is at risk of the ongoing threat of viruses.

“We think it’s a very real scenario. We are concerned for many reasons. One is that monk seals have very little genetic diversity so one seal is just like another seal so they don’t have a lot of flexibility in responding to things like diseases and the other concerns are we just have a small population to start with. Said NOAA Fisheries Veterinarian Michelle Barbieri.

NOAA researchers say they hope to implement the vaccination plan within the next several years.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.