By Wendy Osher
Coast Guard crews transported a juvenile male Hawaiian monk seal from the Big Island to Oahu for urgent medical care on Friday.
The animal, identified by the tag K68, was observed exhibiting what appeared to be breathing difficulties, said Dr. Jeffrey Walters, Marine Mammal Branch Chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“A diagnosis was not possible in the field and it was necessary to bring the seal in to a care facility for a health assessment and treatment as needed,” said Dr. Walters.
NOAA officials say the seal was transferred to the Waikiki Aquarium where NOAA Fisheries veterinarians were preparing to conduct diagnostic procedures such as x-rays and ultrasound.
Safeguarding marine mammals falls under the Coast Guard’s living marine resources mission. The Coast Guard assists protected species by providing the protection necessary to help their populations recover to healthy, sustainable levels.
The Coast Guard partners with NOAA on living marine resources missions in Hawaii to protect endangered marine mammals, which also includes humpback whales, especially during the peak Humpback Whale season months of January through March.
The 14th Coast Guard District is home to four Marine National Monuments and two National Marine Sanctuaries.