Posts Tagged ‘de-hooking’

Hooked Seals

hawaiian monk seal with fish hook in its mouthBack in April of this year, a juvenile male, new to Kauai, showed up on the Kapaa shoreline and was tagged by our Kauai team as R1KD (1KD in left rear flipper, 1KG in the right rear flipper). The very next day he was found with a circle hook embedded in his left cheek. We spent the next week searching for this seal and finally were able to cut the line attached to the hook. We were unable to get a capture crew there quickly enough to remove the hook. Over the next 4 months, this seal was spotted occasionally on the remote Na Pali coastline looking healthy and strong, but still hooked. Last week we sent a team via boat to the Na Pali coast specifically to scout for this seal, but we were unfortunately unsuccessful. The fact that his body condition has been reported as good indicates that the hook is not affecting his ability to forage. Seals can typically shed hooks themselves, however 4 months is a bit longer than most so we remain on alert. If you see this seal please call the Kauai hotline at 808-651-7668.
hawaiian monk seal with fish hook in its mouth

Photo credit: D. Lee

Another small seal, N1AA, was tagged on Niihau in 2014 and bears the first black tag specific for Niihau seals. He has been sighted at various locations on Kauai over the past year including the west side where he hauled out with a hook protruding from his muzzle in July. We were able to quickly deploy a de-hooking team, and to easily remove the hook. Most hooks we encounter are barbed, so the technique we use is to cut the hook in half and remove the two halves rather than attempt to back the barb out in reverse. In this case, the hook was barbed originally, but had corroded away and made the de-hooking process very fast and painless for the seal. If you fish, please consider using barbless hooks and encourage others to do the same.
removing hook from hawaiian monk seal's mouth

Photo credit: D. Lee

The 2015 pupping season has concluded (we’ve been surprised by new unknown pregnant seals in the past though!) and we are pleased to report that all four seals have weaned and are doing extremely well. Here’s the recap:
Mom ID Pup ID Birth Date `Bleach # # Nursing Days Pup Sex
RK13 RG13 4/15/2015 V13 43 Female
RK22 RG22 5/15/2015 V22 34 Male
RO28 RG28 5/26/2015 V29 42 Male
RH58 RG58 7/13/2015 V58 43 Male


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RN44 De-Hooked!

A two year old male, RN44, was discovered at Waipake on April 3 with a large ulua hook in his left cheek. A heavy monofilament leader with swivel was attached to the hook and extended 18″ outside RN44’s body. Unfortunately, RN44 was resting on a large lava bench where he could not be safely captured, so we had to wait until he hauled up in a safe location.

hawaiian monk seal with fish hook in cheek

Photo credit: Langley

RN44 was re-sighted on April 8. He attempted to haul-out several times along Waipake Beach, however the leader kept getting caught under his body and pulling on the hook, creating obvious discomfort. This action prevented him from hauling-out.

He was more successful on the morning of April 10, where RN44 was found sleeping several feet above the wave wash at the south end of Lepeuli Beach. A visual examination revealed the hook’s barb had pierced his cheek. A team assembled, safely caught him, and using a bolt cutters, successfully removed the hook and leader.

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