Monk seal found speared on Rabbit Island

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:29:00 PM HST

Monk seal found with a three prong spear stuck in its head.

HONOLULU -

A female Hawaiian monk seal was found speared in the head and is alive, according to state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials and authorities with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The seal was found on Rabbit Island on Tuesday.  But, officials did not know how the seal was speared.

The monk seal was born on Rabbit Island about a year ago.

Rabbit Island is off limits to the public.  It's not known if the spearing took place there or somewhere else.

"We know the seal is lucky, it was a very superficial injury and it missed the important things like eyes, and ears, nose and things like that," said David Schofield from NOAA.

"The message is if it's unintentional, notify us as soon as possible so we can make sure the seal gets veterinarian assistance," said DLNR Chairman William Aila.

A volunteer called in the injury and a NOAA response team rushed out to help.  Officials believe the seal will make a full recovery.  The seal swam away after the spear was dislodged.

Near the seal, they found what is believed to the be shaft of the spear.

State and federal officials want to remind the public that harassing or harming a Hawaiian monk seal is a class C felony punishable up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

If you have any information on what happened with this seal, call the NOAA enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species.  There are only 1,100 seals remaining, and their population is declining 4 percent per year.

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