Clap Your Flippers For Hawaii Hospital That Rescued 2 Endangered Seal Pups
Scientists found a pair of juvenile monk seals who had been abandoned by their mother in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, earlier this year.
At just a few weeks old, the pups had been prematurely weaned and were malnourished. Scientists knew they faced certain death if left alone so they decided to bring the critically endangered pups to the Ke Kai Ola monk seal hospital in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Over the past three months, Pearl and Hermes (named for the atoll where they were found) have been nursed back to health. They have reportedly doubled their weight on a diet of herring and other fish — Pearl weighing in at nearly 135 pounds and Hermes at 156 — and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monk seal research team is now gearing up to re-release them in the wild later this month.
“It’s pretty darn exciting,” Deb Wickham, operations manager at the Ke Kai Ola, told The Huffington Post. “Each individual counts when you only have 1,100 animals,” she added.
Found exclusively in the Hawaiian Archipelago, the Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world. The majority, about 900, reside in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The remaining 200 or so inhabit the main Hawaiian Islands.
Rachel Sprague, NOAA’s Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that juvenile survival is one of the major challenges for seals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
“For a long time our biologists have had to turn their back and walk away from a seal they knew was going to die,” she told the newspaper. “Now they have a place to go.”