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Hawaiian Monk Seal Mele Found Dead on O‘ahu

June 11, 2021, 2:00 PM HST
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RM90 snoozes in the sand on the beach. Credit: HMAR

The 1-year-old Hawaiian monk seal RM90, also known as Mele, was found dead on the windward side of O‘ahu last month.

On June 7, NOAA Fisheries reported Mele was discovered on May 24. Authorities last saw the animal days before on May 17. While the NOAA was monitoring a fishing hook in her cheek, she appeared to be in good body condition.

“Although the hook in RM90’s cheek did not appear to cause her death, it did lead to a brief entanglement in a net in April 2021,” NOAA officials stated. “This incident was reported immediately to NOAA’s Marine Wildlife Hotline 888-256-9840, and the net was removed by Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response.”

A post-mortem exam on Mele was performed on May 25 in an effort to determine the cause of death and will provide updates on the results as they become available. At this time there are no indications foul play was involved.

Earlier this year, Mele spent some time in Kailua-Kona at the Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola hospital for malnutrition, weighing 28kg when she was admitted. The seal was rescued on Feb. 7 from Hauula, Oahu after being observed in poor body condition since mid-November 2020 by HMSRP.

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“During her stay at Ke Kai Ola, she was consistently eating, given multivitamins and deworming medication and was exposed to a variety of enrichment devices,” NOAA officials stated.

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Mele progressively gained weight and was released on March 26, weighing 46.5kg.

To reduce the chances of harmful interactions with monk seals, the public is encouraged to follow NOAA guidelines for fishing around seals and turtles.

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