HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After two rounds of rehabilitation, Hawaiian monk seal RH38 has been released back into the wild.
The Marine Mammal Center first treated her for malnutrition and parasites in August 2017 at Ke Kai Ola, the Big Island’s dedicated hospital for monk seals.
During this second rehabilitation, they treated her for numerous serious medical ailments, including trauma, pneumonia, corneal damage and multiple organ infections due to sepsis.
In April, North Hawaii Community Hospital performed a CT scan on RH38, the first ever to be done on a wild Hawaiian monk seal.
Marine Mammal Center officials say the number of, and complexity of her conditions highlight the seriousness of threats to this endangered species in the wild and the need for ongoing care.
“For an endangered marine mammal like the Hawaiian monk seal, the release of every individual is critical to help boost the overall population,” said Shawn Johnson, vice president of veterinary medicine and science at The Marine Mammal Center.
“RH38’s recovery is an incredible success story that was full of medical complexities and highlights the importance of our ongoing partnerships to help save this species.”
Shortly following RH38’s release, experts at The Marine Mammal Center took in a female pup from Kalaupapa. The monk seal had severe head swelling, head trauma, scratches and puncture wounds consistent with an interaction with another seal.
The Center’s veterinary experts are watching her closely as they consider next steps once her trauma and respiration improves.
“Conservation takes a village, and to see an outcome like this is a reaffirmation of the impact this critical work is having for this species’ future,” said Jamie Thomton, the Kauai Marine Mammal Response program coordinator with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service