An 8-month old Hawaiian monk seal that swallowed a large fishing hook died following surgery to try and save it.
The female monk seal was spotted with several feet of fishing line on Dec. 17, but returned to the water before she could be captured, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release.
Volunteers searched for the seal, known as RG03, or “Ola Loa” by volunteers, and captured it near Kahuku Point on Sunday.
X-rays revealed that a large barbed circle hook was embedded in the back of her throat.
The surgery to remove the hook took several hours Monday morning, the NOAA release said.
“The position and size of the hook, an accumulation of scar tissue, and RG03’s small size made for a difficult and lengthy surgery,” NOAA said. “However, shortly after surgery RG03 demonstrated signs of shock and other complications from injury and extended surgery.”
The seal died about six hours later.
NOAA said RG03’s mother, R5AY, also known as “Honey Girl,” ingested a hook in 2012 and was rescued and rehabilitated.
“The incident demonstrates the importance of early reporting and the difficulties of working to remove barbed hooks,” the NOAA news release said. “We strongly encourage fishermen to use barbless fishing hooks. Fishermen can still catch big fish but efforts to remove the hooks from seals and other animals accidentally injured are far easier with much less trauma to the animal.”