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Hawaiian monk seal hospital gets new director


    Claire Simeone was named the new director of Ke Kai Ola, the hospital for Hawaiian monk seals in Kailua-Kona.

The Marine Mammal Center has named veterinarian Claire Simeone as the new director of Ke Kai Ola, the hospital for Hawaiian monk seals in Kailua-Kona.

As a veterinarian and ocean health advocate, Simeone is passionate about translating her scientific work and research into compelling stories and inspiring global ocean conservation of marine mammals, particularly endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal.

“The Marine Mammal Center is delighted that Dr. Simeone has accepted this critical role,” said Jeff Boehm, executive director of The Marine Mammal Center based in Sausalito, Calif. “Dr. Simeone’s leadership in this role will allow the center to expand its important work to save this endangered species and engage with the community on matters of ocean conservation and education.”

Simeone will build upon the great successes at Kei Kai Ola led by former director Deb Wickham over the last four years. She most recently served as the center’s conservation medicine veterinarian. She was also selected as a TED fellow, and is scheduled to deliver a talk in April in Vancouver.

Established in 2014, the Marine Mammal Center’s hospital and education center at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kona is dedicated to saving the endangered Hawaiian monk seal from extinction through rehabilitation and community outreach. It has rehabilitated more than 20 monk seals, primarily malnourished pups and yearlings, and released them back to their homes on Kauai and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Ke Kai Ola is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visits can be scheduled at 326-7325.

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