Archive for the ‘7AU’ Category

In March 2018, called the hotline to report an adult Hawaiian monk seal hauled out on Poipu Beach with something dangling from her mouth. What’s more, the seal looked skinny. The concern with a report like that is always that a Hawaiian monk seal has ingested a fish hook and is unable to forage on her own. After consultation with NOAA officials and veterinarians, it was decided to conduct a physical examination of the seal.

Turns out, a fish bone was lodged between the seal’s hard palette, left inner cheek, and tongue, and the dangling matter hanging from her mouth was a large octopus arm that had gotten caught on the fish bone.

The seal wasn’t flipper-tagged, but she was known as R376. After removing the fish bone, injecting her with an antibiotic to combat any infections, and flipper-tagging the seal (7AU left and 7AV right), she was released.

R376 isn’t seen around Kauai often. In fact, she’s only been reported to the hotline nine times this year, usually on the south shore. It’s suspected she spends most of her time on Niihau. But she turned up on Kauai at just the right time one-and-a-half years ago. And, now, her most recent sighting shows she’s continuing to thrive. In fact, her size is such that there’s some speculation she may be pregnant. Now, how’s that for a survival story!IMG_6606



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R376 in robust body condition on December 21, 2017.

At 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, a report was called in to the hotline of an adult female, R376, hauled out at Poipu with something hanging out of her mouth. Our monk seal response team suspected she may have had a fish hook stuck in her mouth and the dangling bits were bait. Upon arriving at the beach 30 minutes later, the organic material was still visible, but what was also evident to the team was that she’d lost quite a bit of weight since her last sighting one month before. The combination of the two issues prompted our local team to reach out to the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program–all disturbances/handling of endangered Hawaiian monk seals require clearance–and it was decided a physical examination was warranted.

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R376 in thin body condition on March 6, 2018.

With the help of a trained volunteer team, R376 was easily herded into a transport cage and transported to secure location to await the NOAA veterinary team that was en-route from Honolulu to assist with the examination.

At 3:30 the seal was sedated and examined with radiographs taken from the head to stomach; however, no hooks were present. A visual inspection of the seal’s mouth revealed a large spinous fish bone lodged between the hard palette, left inner cheek, and tongue. The organic material dangling from her mouth was a large octopus arm that was caught on the fish bone. A pair of needle nose pliers were used to carefully remove the bone. An antibiotic injection was given, blood samples were taken for post morbillivirus vaccination titers, the seal was flipper tagged 7AU (left flipper) and 7AV (right flipper), and the sedation was reversed.

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Small wound and infection from embedded fish bone.


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Fish bone (top) and octopus tentacles (bottom).

R376/7AU was transported back to Poipu and released by the Kauai team by 6:30 p.m. The seal entered the water and departed the area.



If you come upon this monk seal (flipper tags 7AU/7AV), please give her wide berth while she recovers and regains her lost weight. But please take photos and report her whereabouts to our hotline: 808-651-7668.

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