Hawaiian monk seal found with spear in head - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian monk seal found with spear in head

Photo Source: NOAA Photo Source: NOAA
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A seven-month-old Hawaiian monk seal is recovering after a NOAA team removed a three-pronged spear from her head. Authorities aren't sure if it was an attack or an accident, but they're urging people to be careful.

A NOAA response team headed to Manana Island, also known as Rabbit island, on Tuesday afternoon after a volunteer spotted the injured animal. Members found "RL-12" with the spear embedded in her head.

"We know that the seal is lucky in that it was a very superficial injury and it missed the important things like the eyes and ears and the nose and things like that," explained David Schofield of the NOAA Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.

Team members removed the weapon. They also found a spear shaft about 30 feet away. The wildlife sanctuary is off-limits to the public, but it's unclear if the incident spearing happened in the ocean or on land. It's illegal to harass or harm the endangered animal. Last June, the state fined Travis Kane $1,000 for illegally landing on the island and throwing rocks at a seal.

"If this was an unintentional event, that should this occur again we would like those people who were involved to immediately notify us so that we can make sure that some veterinary assistance is called in," said Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman William Aila Jr.

Some fishermen have reported problems with monk seals stealing their fish.

"Fishermen and seal interactions are part of our future. This incident is heartbreaking and not representative of how responsible fishermen conduct themselves," said Maui fisherman Darrell Tanaka.

"We do say to people, if you feel like you're being threatened, you need to defend yourself. But we hope it's not with the pointy end of the spear. Use the other end of the spear or some other object," said Schofield.

Seal encounters also happen on land. A female seal named Irma soaked up the sun in Waikiki on Wednesday. NOAA volunteers made sure that curious spectators didn't get too close.

"Amazing, an endangered species to be so up close and personal and with a few good photos to take home," said Australian visitor David Greaves.

RL-12 was born on Manana Island last June. Marine mammal experts hope she has a long life ahead.

"She looks bright-eyed and healthy, and she just kind of swam off into the wilderness," Schofield said.

Experts estimate that there are between 150 to 200 monk seals in the main Hawaiian islands. Anyone with information about this spearing case is asked to call the NOAA enforcement hotline at 800-853-1964.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • No tsunami threat to Hawaii following Indonesia earthquake

    No tsunami threat to Hawaii following Indonesia earthquake

    Monday, May 29 2017 12:56 PM EDT2017-05-29 16:56:28 GMT
    (Image: United States Geological Survey)(Image: United States Geological Survey)
    There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii following a powerful earthquake in Indonesia Monday morning, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The 6.8 magnitude quake struck around 4:35 a.m. Hawaii time, according to the United States Geological Survey. Officials said it was a shallow quake that caused intense shaking in Indonesia's central Sulawesi province. But there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. There have been at least two aftershocks, measuring in at 5.0 and 4....More >>
    There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii following a powerful earthquake in Indonesia Monday morning, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The 6.8 magnitude quake struck around 4:35 a.m. Hawaii time, according to the United States Geological Survey. Officials said it was a shallow quake that caused intense shaking in Indonesia's central Sulawesi province. But there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. There have been at least two aftershocks, measuring in at 5.0 and 4....More >>
  • BREAKING

    Victims identified in shooting spree that left 8 dead in Mississippi

    Victims identified in shooting spree that left 8 dead in Mississippi

    Monday, May 29 2017 12:55 PM EDT2017-05-29 16:55:43 GMT
    Willie Corey Godbolt (Source: MS Bureau of Investigation)Willie Corey Godbolt (Source: MS Bureau of Investigation)

    The MS Bureau of Investigation confirms eight people were shot and killed overnight in Lincoln County. One of those dead includes a Lincoln County deputy.

    More >>

    The MS Bureau of Investigation confirms eight people were shot and killed overnight in Lincoln County. One of those dead includes a Lincoln County deputy.

    More >>
  • Big Island crash leaves 1 dead, 2 injured

    Big Island crash leaves 1 dead, 2 injured

    Monday, May 29 2017 12:33 PM EDT2017-05-29 16:33:57 GMT
    Hawaii Police Department (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)Hawaii Police Department (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

    One person was killed and two others were injured in a single vehicle crash in Volcano, Big Island fire officials said. 

    More >>

    One person was killed and two others were injured in a single vehicle crash in Volcano, Big Island fire officials said. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly