HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaiian monk seal, found only in the Hawaiian archipelago, is a critically endangered species whose population is declining at 4 percent per year. Amy Kalili told us about an interesting trend however that is emerging.
"We have never seen seals on Molokai. When we did see one, it was a big story. Today, we are seeing the coming of the seals. There are seals all over Molokai," said Walter Ritte.
KP2 is one of these seals and has spotlighted this issue and the plight of monk seals. KP2 was hand-reared and released back into the wild and lived at Kalaupapa until he found some friends at Kaunakakai.
"This is a special seal. He swam with us, with our kids, and canoe paddlers all summer. So we've become really tight with KP2," said Ritte.
A controversy then arose in October as KP2 was abruptly removed from Molokai when NOAA asserted that KP2's playfulness with humans was dangerous. He was also diagnosed with cataracts and deemed medically unfit for life in the wild.
"After that clash and the dust settling, now they are realizing that they have to work with the community," said Ritte.
In November, NOAA and the Molokai community came together to say goodbye to KP2 before he was flown to California for eye surgery and temporary housing until a permanent home for him is built in Hawaii.
"We're putting together a proper blessing. The seal is going to go. We want to say goodbye. We want to make sure we do a proper blessing for the seal to go. They allowed us to do that. To show that they want to work with the community," said Ritte.
"We are all working on the same thing. We want to recover the monk seal, the monk seal is an important Hawaiian resource. The agencies alone can't do it, we need the communities. We need to be able to work with them and continue to work with them," said David Schofield NOAA, Marine Mammal Response Coordinator.