KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaiian Monk Seal pup was found dead on a beach on Kauai after being mauled by a dog.
Four other seals were injured but survived the vicious attack.
"One of the mothers was over her pup and the pup was motionless and the mother was vocalizing and still guarding its pup and calling out to it and getting no response," said David Schofield, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official.
One NOAA official called the act violent, disturbing and emotional.
Rachel Sprague, Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator, says they are all very upset over this news and can't remember a time when this has happened before.
"It is a fairly rare occurrence. This is the first time we know of that a Hawaiian monk seal has been killed by a dog," said Sprague.
NOAA volunteers found the two-week old pup dead early Tuesday morning on a north shore beach on the Garden Island.
They said another mom and pup, along with a third pup, was found also punctured and scratched.
The say the seals were fenced in a protection zone at a remote beach. Paw prints in the sand indicate a dog or dogs got around the fence and attacked the seals between late Monday evening and early Tuesday morning.
"Initially there's surprise and shock and trying to immediately figure out what to do and how to protect the rest of the seals that are in the area to prevent it from happening again," Sprague said.
A necropsy showed a dog bite probably killed the 50-pound pup.
“They discovered that the seal's carotid artery had been severed," Schofield said.
The pup’s mom had punctures on her muzzle indicating she may have been trying to protect it.
"In this case we don't know whether it was a feral dog or whether it was someone's pet. But people do have the power over what their pets, that they own, do and so they can keep their pets on a leash around Hawaiian monk seals,” said Sprague.
Schofield says they don't believe the wounds on the others are life threatening and they'll continue to monitor the seals until they're healed.
State and federal law enforcement officials have been notified of this week's incident.
Anyone with information is asked to call the marine mammal hotline at (888) 256-9840.