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Hawaiian monk seal R7AF
Press Release

Hooked Hawaiian Monk Seal Released After Receiving Life-Saving Care

February 3, 2022
  • Species conservation
  • Entanglement
  • Ocean trash

Hooked Hawaiian monk seal from Oʻahu gets green light for release after receiving life-saving care at dedicated hospital for monk seals on Hawai‘i Island

The Marine Mammal Center, the world’s largest marine mammal hospital, approved the release of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal back to Oʻahu after treating the animal for fishing gear ingestion at Ke Kai Ola, the Center’s hospital and visitor center in Kailua-Kona that is dedicated to the endangered marine mammal. 

The successful rescue, treatment and release of R7AF, formally known as N2, was made possible thanks to the Center’s partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Coast Guard, Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR).

To quickly return this hooked juvenile seal back to his ocean home is an incredible success story and a testament to the importance of our ongoing partnerships to help save this species.

“To quickly return this hooked juvenile seal back to his ocean home is an incredible success story and a testament to the importance of our ongoing partnerships to help save this species,” says Dr. Sophie Whoriskey, the Center’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Veterinarian. “As the only partner organization permitted by NOAA Fisheries to treat and rehabilitate Hawaiian monk seals, we’re proud to help give R7AF a second chance at life especially when the survival of each individual is critical to the recovery of the population.”

After the animal’s arrival and endoscopy procedure at the Center’s hospital on January 28, veterinary experts noted the animal was recovering well. The Center’s team utilized special dehooking tools while R7AF was under anesthesia to safely remove the ingested hook avoiding a more complex surgery and recovery. 

Analysis from a series of blood and fecal samples taken during the initial care process showed no signs of illness, including toxoplasmosis. Based on the seal’s health status and heightened risk for habituation due to its age, the Center recommended its immediate release, and NOAA initiated release plans.

Read more about R7AF's return to Oʻahu.

Learn More About Hawaiian Monk Seals

Since 2014, the Center has rehabilitated and released 37 monk seals, most of which have been rescued from and returned to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as part of the Center’s partnership with NOAA Fisheries, utilizing resources in the area to identify seals in need, rescue and rehabilitate them, and give them a second chance at life.

The Center’s partnership with NOAA Fisheries and other cooperating agencies is more important than ever to prevent this endangered species from becoming extinct. Approximately 30 percent of monk seals that are alive today are due to conservation efforts led by NOAA Fisheries and partners like The Marine Mammal Center.


For more information or to set up an interview on this topic, please contact us at media@tmmc.org.



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How the Public Can Help

The public should keep a safe distance from monk seals and report sightings on Hawai‘i Island to the Center’s response team at the 24-hour hotline: 808-987-0765. 

Report hooked, stranded, or entangled monk seals to the NOAA Fisheries statewide toll-free hotline at 1-888-256-9840. NOAA Fisheries also recommends these best practices to reduce injuries to monk seals when fishing.

Volunteer Opportunities on Hawai‘i and Maui

The Marine Mammal Center is recruiting new volunteers for our operations on Hawai‘i Island and Maui. Recruitment opens on February 7 and will remain open through March 18. Learn more about volunteering and sign up to attend upcoming virtual trainings.

Our Hawaiian monk seal conservation volunteers play an integral role in helping us save this endangered species by monitoring and identifying seals that may require rescue and rehabilitation.

“Our Hawaiian monk seal conservation volunteers play an integral role in helping us save this endangered species by monitoring and identifying seals that may require rescue and rehabilitation,” says Lauren Van Heukelem, the Center’s response and operations coordinator. “Volunteers also provide valuable public outreach to help raise awareness about the risks of human and pet interactions, and why this native animal is critical to the health of our shared ocean home.”

The Center values volunteer engagement and inclusivity, and is proud to welcome existing and new volunteers into its ohana to create an even more robust and diverse community of volunteers.


I want to volunteer!

Header image: photo by Sophie Whoriskey © The Marine Mammal Center / NOAA permit #18786

Yes, I want to save a life!

Yes, I want to save a life!

You’ll be giving sick and injured animals the best possible care at the Center’s state-of-the-art hospital. With your gift today, you are giving a patient a second chance at life in the wild.

  • $35 You'll buy food for a hungry animal
  • $45 You'll provide life-saving medical care
  • $65 You'll make second chances possible

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species conservation
entanglement
ocean trash
Sophie Whoriskey
Hawaiian Monk Seal