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Monk seal dies after swallowing fish hook

Craig Gima
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COURTESY NOAA

Volunteers searched for the seal, known as RG03, or “Ola Loa” by volunteers, and captured it near Kahuku Point on Sunday.

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COURTESY NOAA

X-rays revealed that a large barbed circle hook was embedded in the back of her throat.

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COURTESY NOAA

The surgery to remove the hook took several hours Monday morning.

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.”

12 responses to “Monk seal dies after swallowing fish hook”

  1. kiragirl says:

    Fishermen do not care and will not heed the suggestion of barbless hooks. Okay, some may. Sorry about the young seal.

  2. mikethenovice says:

    Humans are just guests on this world meant for the animals.

  3. Oahuan says:

    Barbless hooks? Hahaha like that’s going to happen. What’s next? Ban shoreline fishing too? Hahahaha too much.

  4. stanislous says:

    You’d be surprised how many fishermen use barbless hooks these days. We’re taught that if a fish is hooked really deep, down in the throat or stomach for instance,… cut the line as close to the hook as possible and release it. The hook will rust away or work itself loose and fall out. Fish tagged and recovered years later prove this. “operating” on the fish to get the hook out usually kills it… kind of like operating on a seal? Judgement call, try to do best for the seal.

  5. Cellodad says:

    Awww! What can we do to prevent these things from happening? It is so cool to be diving and have one of these treasures come look in your mask and make personal contact.

  6. CKMSurf says:

    Ban shore fishing at kaena point. It’s been years since I got anything good on shore and it’s already a bird sanctuary.

  7. Bothrops says:

    You can catch fish on a barbless hook. That is if you know how to fish.

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