Two ailing monk seals with connections to Kalaupapa have been in the news lately.
One sick monk seal was found in Kalaupapa last Thursday, malnourished and dehydrated. The female yearling had previously been seen at Kaunala Beach, south of Dixie Maru.
After being discovered in Kalaupapa, volunteers arrived to help airlift the monk seal by commercial air carrier to the Waikiki Aquarium for assessment and treatment. The seal is in stable condition, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said.
Another female seal, born in Kalaupapa last July, was hooked by a fisherman off Maui. The seal frequents the Olowalu area of Maui.
The fisherman reported that he had hooked the seal, known as RL06, while fishing for ulua on Saturday morning. The hook is likely still embedded on the left side of the seal’s face.
“I would like to commend this fisherman for calling in the incident,” said William J. Aila Jr., chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, in a news release Thursday. “This is exactly the type of cooperation we need from the community.”
According to NOAA Fisheries, the Olowalu seal was reportedly fed by humans and was seen interacting with them. This interaction may have predisposed the seal to get hooked, said David Schofield of NOAA Fisheries. “The public is encouraged not to feed or interact with monk seals to prevent situations like this one from happening,” said Schofield.
Anyone who has information about the seals’ whereabouts should call the NOAA Fisheries Monk Seal Hotline at (888) 256-9840. Photos of the hooked seal can be found on DLNR’s website at dlnr.hawaii.gov.