The latest update (5/24/12) from NOAA Fisheries, on the hooked monk seals that have recently been in the news. (Photo Courtesy of NOAA under NOAA NMFS permit no. 937-1905)
- Recovered well from the de-hooking procedure at Waikiki Aquarium despite initial concerns that he was fighting an infection and pneumonia.
- On Monady, May 2, he was transported from Oahu to Kauai on a USCG C-130.
- Bob Braun, DVM, and Michele Bane (NMFS Kauai Response Coordinator) flew with the seal who was released at Salt Ponds beach at 16:35 on the same day (Mon, May 2.).
- The seal is fitted with temporary tracking tags (cell phone tag and spot (satellite) tag) for tracking and follow up if needed.
- Sharkbite had to be humanely euthanized on Saturday (May 19) at Waikiki Aquarium due to infection and necrosis of the surgical site and associated deteriorating health.
- The gross necropsy revealed that area of the hooking at the cardiac sphincter of the stomach-esophagus junction had healed quickly, however, an area about as big in diameter as a dime had opened at the surgical site due to necrotic ends causing a "dehiscence" (a surgical complication in which a wound breaks open along surgical suturing). The seal's advanced age (at least 27 years old) probably was a factor in his poor recovery after surgery.
- The volunteer network was notified and many were saddened but understood the seal's options and condition. The remains of the seal will be cremated and a ceremony will be held at White Plains in the near future.
- Still have not been able to capture her, but we are ready to do so and treat her as soon as see presents herself in a location where we can safely capture her and bring her in for treatment.
- We have stepped up surveillance and we believe she is still around Oahu.
- The good news is that she has been sighted out in the water acting normally, but just not hauling out in a place where she can be captured.
- If the situation remains unchanged, we would bring her in for an X-ray at Waikiki Aquarium and proceed with de-hooking and/or other treatment as necessary.
NOAA and DLNR would like to take this opportunity to remind fishermen that monk seal deaths and injuries from fishing interactions can often be prevented, and adverse impacts to fishermen and seals can be reduced, when fishermen follow guidelines that are available at the following link: http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/Library/PRD/Hawaiian%20monk%20seal/HMS-fishing_guidelines-FINAL-PUBLIC.pdf
These guidelines, entitled “Hawaiian Monk Seals and Fishing Interactions: Guidelines for Prevention, Safety and Reporting,” describe actions fishermen can take to seal hookings and entanglement, and to reduce fishing gear and bait loss. The guidelines also stress the importance of reporting all fishery interactions.
Hotline: The toll-free, 24/7 reporting hotline for all fishery interactions and other marine mammal incidents is: 1-888-256-9840. NOAA and DLNR urge all fishermen and other ocean users to write down this hotline and/or save it in their mobile phones for timely use whenever a seal is hooked or entangled.
Benefits of Reporting: Timely reporting of monk seal fishery interactions is beneficial in at least two ways:
First, reporting an interaction as soon as possible can help save a seal’s life or minimize seal injury. In at least three previous cases, real-time reporting of seals that had ingested hooks resulted in successful treatment and release of the seal back to the wild. These seals probably would have died without this intervention. On numerous other occasions, fishermen have provided timely reporting of less severe hooking and entanglements that were not immediately life-threatening, but could have become life-threatening if not responded to. These timely reports have allowed response network members to get out to the location in time to locate the seal and safely remove the gear.
The second benefit to timely reporting is that it helps federal and state managers and researchers better understand how fishery interactions occur and thereby helps guide the development and testing of improved methods to prevent and mitigate interactions. By reporting and documenting interactions, fishermen can partner with NOAA and DLNR to find better non-regulatory methods to effectively keep seals away from fishing gear and fishing areas, while also allowing for monk seal conservation and recovery.
Handling these hookings has been very labor and resource intensive and we could not be doing it without significant support and leadership from several partners. These include, but are not limited to: DLNR and the State HIHWNMS staff, Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, the response volunteers (HMSRTO and Kauai Volunteers), Vancouver Aquarium, USCG Air Station Barbers Point, The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), Dr. Bob Braun, Dr. Marty Haulena, and Dr. Francis Gulland.