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Joint effort by N.O.A.A. and Coast Guard saves endangered monk seal

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Thanks to a joint-effort by the U.S. Coast Guard and a team of NOAA workers, a young, female monk seal was returned to the wild yesterday.

Found on a beach on the island of Niihau in January, the endangered monk seal was in failing health with a severe eye infection.

Workers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were notified and the ailing seal was transferred to Kauai to be treated and released. But just two weeks ago, the seal was found again, this time in even worse condition.

Dr. Michelle Barbieri, head of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Health and Disease Program, called for more intervention and veterinary ophthalmologists, specializing in marine animals, performed an enucleation, removing the young monk seal’s diseased eye.

Two weeks of post-op, a nutritious diet, and ride in a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin, got the young seal back to Niihau, the seventh largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, where she was originally found in January.

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