Happy ending for Hawaii's wayward seal

By Paula Akana
Published On: Feb 06 2013 05:21:05 PM HST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 09:06:52 PM HST

Hawaii beach receives a visit from a northern fur seal, thousands of miles away from home.

HONOLULU -

Six months have passed since a northern fur seal was discovered emaciated and inching along a North Shore beach on Oahu.

It's the first ever northern fur seal spotted in Hawaiian waters.

"I've worked with marine mammals for quite a while.  I have my top 10 kinds of weird stories -- of things that, wow, you don't expect to see that!  This is definitely in the top 10," said David Schofield from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  "We would never expect to see a fur seal in Hawaii.  It was an interesting case for me and one that was memorable."

But, this one was in trouble.  NOAA rushed it to the Honolulu Zoo for treatment.

Several days later, NOAA and zoo officials corralled the seal into a specifically designed ice pack chilled crate.

She was then taken to the Honolulu International Airport and carefully loaded on a FedEx plane headed to California.  The seal was taken to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

It only took weeks of TLC and lots of fish to get back her seal-like figure -- packing on 25 pounds.

During that time, she captured the hearts of the center's employees and volunteers, who nicknamed her "Golden Missy," after Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin.

On Aug. 23, Golden Missy was released back into the wild at Chimney Rock Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

"She had a satellite tag placed on her.  She headed south and west and looked like for a little while she was headed towards Hawaii again, but luckily she took a sharp left turn and headed towards the Gulf of California and Mexico," said Schofield.  "The tag only lasted for a short period of time.  So, we lost transmission of her, but the fact she was moving so far so quick, we think she's doing fine."

We may never know how Missy arrived in Hawaii.  But, her story will live on.  We've been told a children's book is in the works about Golden Missy, the wayward seal.

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