NOAA prepares for Hawaiian monk seal vaccinations

NOAA prepares for Hawaiian monk seal vaccinations

HONOLULU (AP) - Officials are readying for a potential morbillivirus outbreak in Hawaiian waters, hoping to protect the dwindling monk seal population from the disease.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Monk Seal Research Program conducted a vaccination drill Wednesday through Friday on Oahu and in the Northwest Islands. Morbillivirus is a widespread disease that has killed thousands of dolphins and seals.

Only 1,100 endangered Hawaiian monk seals remain, leaving the species at risk for being wiped out if the outbreak spreads.

Participants in this week's vaccination drill considered several scenarios, such as whether to vaccinate a seal with a hook in its mouth. They also demonstrated the vaccination procedure for the media, using a 16- to 18-gague needle and a large pole plunged into the seal's muscles.

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