First monk seal born in 2014

First monk seal born in 2014

It was the first monk seal birth of 2014 in Hawaiian waters. And what's even more remarkable is what the mom had to go through just to get there.

The seal R5AY, or "Honey Girl," was found near death at Sunset Beach in November 2012 with a fish hook in her cheek and with a tongue that was badly infected.

"When we got out to see her she was in terrible shape, was severely emaciated," said Rachel Sprague, Assistant Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"There was a reasonable expectation that she was not going to make it."

Scientists say there are about 150 to 200 monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands and each year 10 to 15 of them are accidentally hooked by fisherman.

In most cases, the wounds are superficial and the seal or an animal expert is able to get the hook out. But sometimes the hooks are ingested, which can be fatal.

In Honey Girl's case, the hook was not only embedded in her cheek but the fishing line was wrapped around her tongue. She was also covered with algae.

Officials from NOAA, the Waikiki Aquarium and the Honolulu Zoo removed the hook and treated her with antibiotics, before releasing her.

Now, Honey Girl is a regular again at beaches around Turtle Bay, where she gave birth to her pup last week.

"For her to go from the condition she was in to now being a mom again and contributing to her species recovery is very exciting," Sprague said.

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