The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monk seal emergency response team is keeping a close eye on an adult, female seal nicknamed “Right Spot” on Oahu, as she heals from what appeared to be a shark wound.
Last Tuesday, NOAA’s monk seal emergency team went to an undisclosed shoreline to assess Right Spot, or RO16, because she had been floating listlessly, a sign of possible health problems. The team discovered a wound to her left armpit and one of the digits of her flipper, which appeared most likely to be from a shark bite.
The team administered an injection of antibiotics and decided that allowing her to heal in the wild was the best approach. Since then, the monk seal has shown promising signs of improvement. The team gave her a follow-up dose of antibiotics on Monday and noted decreased swelling around the wounded area.
Volunteers from Hawaii Marine Animal Response continue to monitor Right Spot and have observed her swimming further from her original site, feeding and hauling out on shore.
With an estimated population of 1,400 remaining in the wild, Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species protected by state and federal laws. Anyone who encounters a monk seal on the beach or in the water is urged to keep a distance, particularly if it is healing or in discomfort. Swimming with an injured, wild animal can be dangerous.
Sightings of seals can be reported to NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840.