Three Hawaiian Monk Seals were found dead on Oahu this week.
The first adult female seal, known as RK60, was found dead floating offshore Tuesday, May 15. This female was seen recently on May 2, and she was reported to be in good condition at the time. According to NOAA, there were no health concerns leading up to her death and no history of interventions.
On the morning of Wednesday, May 16, a small but fully-developed female pup was found in Laie. And on May 17, NOAA staff — with support from the City & County of Honolulu and Hawaii Marine Animal Response — recovered the body of an adult female known as RT10 in Kahuku.
Post-mortem exams have been conducted. Decomposition limited the definitive conclusions that could be drawn from the post-mortem exams. NOAA does not have any reason to associate these deaths with a trend, pattern, or common threat. Follow-up lab analyses will be completed in the coming weeks to attempt to determine a final cause of death.
NOAA wants to remind the public that they can play a key role in monk seal emergency response by proactively reporting any seal they see. It appears that one of the seals, RK60, may have been observed “logging” (floating listlessly) in Kaneohe Bay in the days leading up to the discovery of her body. This logging behavior can be a symptom of a sick seal. Reports of this behavior did not reach NOAA until after RK60 died, but more timely reporting may have given NOAA a chance to intervene and help her.
Officials do not think these losses are due to related causes, but NOAA and their partners in HMAR are stepping up surveillance for the next several days to check in on Oahu’s resident seals. You can help by reporting any seals you observe on any island. If you see a monk seal, healthy or thought to be ill or injured, to 220-7802 on Oahu and 888-256-9840 for the neighbor islands.