A northern fur seal found thousands of miles from its native territory was taken to the Honolulu Zoo for quarantine, observation, and treatment, according to city officials.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration response team members found the wayward seal on a North Shore beach exhibiting peculiar behavior.
"This is a very unusual situation," said Mary Harbold, education specialist at the Honolulu Zoo. "The range of the northern fur seal is in the cooler waters of the Pacific rim, from Japan to the Channel and San Miguel Islands off California. When the response team discovered the seal it was not behaving like a normal monk seal. It was walking on all flippers like a walrus rather than like an inch worm as our monk seals normally do."
When NOAA volunteers spotted the seal they thought it was a pup because it was so emaciated.
"It was taken to the zoo and placed in quarantine to protect our native mammals,” said Harbold.
The zoo expanded its collaboration for this unusual visitor to include Kahu Trisha Kehaulani Watson, of Honu Consulting. Kahu Kehau provided a traditional Hawaiian blessing recognizing the female northern fur seal, welcoming her to Hawaii and petitioning for her safe return to her natural environment.
Plans are now underway for NOAA to transport the seal to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California for rehabilitation.