While federal wildlife officials noted the apparent, successful weaning of the monk seal pup at Kaimana Beach Tuesday, they also reported the death of a yearling known as Mele.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries reported that monk seal RM90, fondly known as Mele, was found dead May 24 on the windward side of Oahu. She had just made it to one year.
Mele had recently been rehabilitated at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola for malnutrition, and after successfully regaining weight, released back to the wild in March.
She had also gotten a fishing hook lodged in her cheek, but appeared to be in good body condition when she was last seen in mid-May, according to officials.
Third-graders at Kamehameha Schools’ Kapalama campus in Honolulu gifted Mele with her Hawaiian name, which means “chant of song.”
NOAA said a post-mortem exam was conducted on May 25, with results to be provided when they become available. There is no indication at this time that foul play was involved.
Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species, with only about 1,400 remaining in the wild. They are protected by both state and federal laws. Monk seal sightings and injuries can be reported to NOAA’s statewide hotline at (888) 256-9840.