The Department of Land and Natural Resources has reported a third monk seal found dead on Molokai.
According to DLNR Deputy Director Guy Kaulukukui, the latest dead monk seal was discovered yesterday. This comes just one week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the suspicious deaths of two monk seals found on Molokai’s south shore within the past month and a half.
Necropsies on the first two dead monk seals indicated that, “foul play cannot be ruled out,” according to NOAA. A necropsy is being conducted this week on the third seal to determine the cause of death, according to Jeff Walters, Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator for NOAA.
These recent deaths come on the heels of NOAA’s attempts to expand the critical habitats for monk seals. This controversial proposal offers new rules that will protect beaches and coastal waters on all the main Hawaiian Islands and expand protected habitat in the Northwestern Islands. On Nov. 7, the NOAA Fisheries Service reopened the public comment period and extended it 60 days until Jan. 6.
Another NOAA monk seal initiative involves a recovery action plan. NOAA wants to consider bringing wild female pup monk seals from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to live on the main Hawaiian Islands for three years to help the population recover.