Federal wildlife officials have captured an adult female Hawaiian monk seal for monitoring after it was showing sick-like behavior in the Ko Olina area.
Seal RO28, also known as Pohaku, is being cared for by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries veterinary staff, NOAA Fisheries said on its website. Pohaku was captured Wednesday after a volunteer saw her exhibiting a behavior called “logging,” in which a seal will lethargically float on the water and not swim.
NOAA said “logging” can indicate a seal is injured or has underlying health problems.
Some seals, including Pohaku, can show this behavior for several hours even while appearing healthy. However, after monitoring Pohaku, NOAA staff decided to bring her in for further evaluation.
NOAA will provide an update on her condition when test results come back.
Monk seals are a critically endangered species with about 1,400 in the wild, living around the Northwestern and main Hawaiian Islands. The seals are endemic to Hawaii.
Meanwhile, NOAA reported earlier this month that a young monk seal that died in November may have drowned in a lay gillnet. RL36, also known as Makoa, was found dead on Oahu’s North Shore on Nov. 9.
Tests showed Makoa had been healthy and had no underlying disease, and photos taken before his death showed he appeared normal.
With the available information and similarities with other monk seal drownings, experts said the evidence points to drowning as the cause of Makoa’s death.
However, because of decomposition, researchers could not completely rule out trauma.
NOAA urged the public to follow these guidelines for fishing around seals and turtles.