Kaimana the monk seal got hooked — a second time. This time, she needed help getting it out.
A volunteer alerted officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Tuesday afternoon that the popular monk seal born at Kaimana Beach last year appeared to have a fish hook in the left corner of her mouth.
Volunteers from Hawaii Marine Animal Response monitored Kaimana, also identified by her flipper tag RJ58, while she rested on shore until NOAA could respond.
NOAA Fisheries’ response team was able to safely remove the approximately, one-inch circle hook on the undisclosed beach on Oahu’s North Shore. Kaimana was in good condition, NOAA said, and immediately went back into the ocean upon her release.
NOAA Fisheries will work with Hawaii Marine Animal Response to monitor Kaimana’s condition.
Kaimana was hooked for the first time in September of last year, when volunteers spotted her with a treble hook and lure stuck in her lower lip. In that incident, Kaimana was able to shake the superficial hook free on her own the same day.
Kaimana was one of four endangered Hawaiian monk seal pups born on Oahu over the summer last year.
The youngest of the four, a male seal nicknamed Kahuluokalae, with tag number RJ16, was observed floating listlessly on Christmas Day.
Since this type of logging behavior can be indicative of underlying health problems, NOAA brought Kahuluokalae to their monk seal treatment facility for a thorough health assessment at the NOAA Inouye Regional Center on Sunday.
“At this time, he is alert, responsive and calm but his prognosis remains guarded,” NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Jolene Lau said in an e-mail.
Following X-rays and an ultrasound, it was determined that he has no signs of trauma or having swallowed a fish hook. But based on evaluation of his blood, NOAA Fisheries believes he may be coping with a severe infection.
“RJ16 continues to receive intensive medical care including nutrition, fluids, vitamins and a broad range of medications several times daily,” wrote Lau. “We’re conducting diagnostic tests that may help us determine the underlying cause. He is being treated for all the most likely possibilities in the meantime.”
The public is reminded to call NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840 if a monk seal is spotted in distress.