Monk seal found dead on Molokai

A juvenile female monk seal, identified as RJ42, is pictured on Molokai in July 2017. NOAA officials are investigating the death of RJ42 after she was found dead under suspicious circumstances on Molokai on May 31. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries photo

The Maui News

Federal officials are investigating after a monk seal was found dead under suspicious circumstances on Molokai.

On May 31, a juvenile female monk seal was found dead on the west end of Kawaaloa Bay at Moomomi on the island’s northwest shore.

A postmortem examination by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries on June 1 indicated that the monk seal’s injuries had been purposely inflicted, causing a significant amount of trauma that resulted in the monk seal’s death. NOAA’S Office of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation.

It’s the sixth suspected monk seal killing on Molokai and the third at Moomomi since 2009.

“The monk seals that are killed in this way, unfortunately, impact recovery of these species because they are potentially females that would have grown up to give birth to pups of their own someday,” NOAA veterinarian Michelle Barbieri told Hawaii News Now. “So not only do we lose the life of this particular individual, but we do unfortunately lose the future reproductive output of those individuals.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the NOAA enforcement hotline at (800) 853-1964 or send email to respectwildlife@noaa.gov. Reports can be made anonymously.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement may offer a reward to any person who provides information leading to an arrest, conviction or civil penalty assessment.


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