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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 15, 2010

Juvenile female monk seal found dead on Kauai


By Coco Zickos
The Garden Island

LIHUE A juvenile female Hawaiian monk seal was found dead at Glass Beach near Eleele and Port Allen on May 6, but a cause of death has not been determined, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator Jeff Walters.

A necropsy was performed and results are still pending, said NOAA's Marine Mammal Response Coordinator David Schofield. With tissue samples sent "throughout the country" it could take "several weeks to several months" to ascertain what happened to her, Schofield said.

Temporarily tagged with the number 366, the 1-to-2-year old female was likely born on Niihau and swam to Kauai, although that is "pure speculation," Walters said.

Only pups born on the main Hawaiian Islands have tags attached to their flippers something the monk seal lacked when she was discovered around the southern portion of Kauai in recent months.

Whatever the cause of death, it will make a "significant impact to the reproductive future" of the endangered creatures, Walters said.

"It's sad whenever we lose a seal under any circumstances, but to lose a juvenile female, with her future breeding potential, is especially tragic," said Kauai Monk Seal Watch Program Projects Coordinator Timothy Robinson.

Less than 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals are estimated to exist throughout the islands, Walters said. While the population on the Main Hawaiian Islands is "relatively small," around 150, this is actually a "real increase" in numbers.

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Read the complete story in The Garden Island: http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_7fc4f990-5f2d-11df-bed1-001cc4c002e0.html