KAUNAKAKAI, Molokai (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaiian monk seal found floating in waters off Kaunakakai was intentionally killed, according to officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The seal was discovered in shallow waters off southeastern Kaunakakai on Monday by Leimana Naki, who towed the seal in by kayak. Specialists arrived on Tuesday and performed a necropsy to determine the cause of death.
The male seal at was tagged and well known to frequent the waters around Molokai. He was in his mid-to-late twenties. He was distinguished by his very large size and lack of a rear flipper. The flipper was removed when the seal was younger; a shark attack was thought to be a likely cause of that injury.
There are only an estimated 1,200 Hawaiian monk seals alive today. The species is considered critically endangered. Killing, capturing or harassing a Hawaiian monk seal is illegal under federal law.
Authorities won't comment on the exact circumstances of the seal's death, but there is a law enforcement investigation under way. NOAA is asking anyone with information on the incident to call 1-800-853-1964.
Photo source: George Peabody