Four malnourished endangered Hawaiian monk seals have been recovered from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and are now getting the help they need.
The monk seals were transported to the Marine Mammal Center’s monk seal hospital, Ke Kai Ola, in Kona by the representatives of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Since the Marine Mammal Center has opened two years ago, experts at Ke Kai Ola have fortunately rehabbed and brought 15 monk seals to the wild, which is more than 1 percent of the total population of the species. Natural factors threatening the Hawaiian monk seal combine increased male aggression, low juvenile survival rates and the reduction of habitat and prey associated with environmental variations. High juvenile mortality is caused by hunger and marine debris entanglement.
The center revealed that two of the patients are pups that were weaned too early, one of them being an incredibly underweight 5-year-old. Dr. Michelle Barbieri, Wildlife Veterinary Medical Officer with NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, said that the underweight seal is much smaller and thinner than the others in her group. Specialists are concerned that the Hawaiian monk seal has generally been declining in condition over the past two seasons and seemed to drop even further this season.
Officials stated that the rehabilitating process began immediately and that the four animals had bloodwork done and underwent physical exams while aboard the Oscar Elton Sette. They are now following a strict treatment regime including fish-mash tube feedings and antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids and oral electrolytes.
The Hawaiian monk seal, Neomonachus schauinsland is a highly endangered species. Unfortunately, these monk seals are a conservation reliant endangered species. The small population of about 1,100 individuals is threatened by entanglement in fishing nets, human intrusion, very low levels of genetic variation, disease, marine debris, and past commercial hunting for skins.
When it comes to endangered species, there are many ways to conserve them. Some of the techniques include educating the public about the Hawaiian monk seal, translocation, habitat cleanup, and captive care.
Hawaiian monk seals mainly prey on cephalopods and crustaceans, but they also prey on reef-dwelling bony fish.
Image source: Wikipedia