The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday have once again asked for help from Hawaii’s recreational anglers and boaters by providing timely information on any monk seal hook-ups or entanglements.
“A juvenile monk seal flown by the U.S. Coast Guard from Hawai‘i Island to O‘ahu last Friday for medical treatment has died,” the agencies reported. “A necropsy conducted by NOAA Fisheries revealed that the young male seal, known by his ID tags as RK68, suffered fractured ribs earlier in life, but ingestion of a fishing hook more recently is believed to be the cause of death.”
Officials believe that had they received a detailed report of the hooking incident when it occurred, the chances of a life-saving response could have been much greater, as the results of a necropsy reveal the seal may have been hooked for several weeks or months.
“Early reporting of a monk seal hooking can possibly mean the difference between life and death for one of these critically endangered animals,” said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. “We rely on the community to be active and mindful stewards of our oceans. Had someone come forward, even anonymously, to report this hooking when it occurred, we may have been able to save his life.”
Aila believes the hooking of a monk seal is often preventable, but that sometimes things happen beyond a fisherman’s control. Reporting such hook-ups however is almost always within our control, and when someone observes a hooking and doesn’t call it in, it means an unfortunate incident can go from bad to worse, and become fatal for the seal.
All ocean users are asked to use the toll-free, 24/7 reporting hotline of 1-888-256-9840 for all fishery interactions, including hook-ups and other marine mammal incidents.