Headlines – News – Articles
13th February, 2012

NOAA removes “aggressive” monk seal from NWHI

Statement, NOAA Fisheries, 10 February 2012

In 2010 and 2011 NOAA Fisheries staff began to observe a nine-year old monk seal, KE18, attacking newly weaned and juvenile seals at Kure Atoll in the NWHI; causing injuries including lacerations, scratches and puncture wounds on this critical component of the monk seal population. KE18 seriously injured 10 of the 13 pups and an additional three juveniles during the 2010 and 2011 field camps on Kure Atoll. When KE18 transited to Midway Atoll there were two unexplained deaths during his time there.

Once the frequency and severity of injuries was noted, NOAA Fisheries staff engaged in non-lethal actions designed to interrupt KE18’s attacks by making noises, closely approaching him, etc). When these interventions did not change KE18’s behavior, NOAA conducted a rigorous decision process and determined that removal of KE18 from the NWHI was necessary. Late in the summer of 2011 NOAA explored the options available for removal of KE18 as permitted by its Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act permits and concluded that lethal removal was the only available option at that time.

A team of NOAA Fisheries researchers, scientists and a veterinarian spent seven days at Kure in early August 2011 searching for KE18, but although the seal was spotted three times, he never presented himself in a place that would allow the team to safely capture and humanely euthanize him.

In January 2012 KE18 was spotted at Midway Atoll and marked with a non-toxic dye making him easily identifiable. On January 29, KE18 was captured at Midway Atoll by a small team of NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff and transported to Honolulu by a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane that was coincidentally at Midway on a rescue mission for an injured commercial seaman. KE18 arrived on Oahu on January 30 and was transported to a holding pool at the Waikiki Aquarium where he is temporarily being held. [More]

Source: NOAA fisheries removes aggressive monk seal KE18 from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), NOAA Fisheries/PIRO, 10 February 2012.

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