Hawai'i State News

NOAA Fisheries says O‘ahu monk seal pup died from dog attack

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Monk seal pup RS48, also known as Hoʻomau Lehua, was killed in 2023. Photo Courtesy: Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response

Based on a post-mortem examination, NOAA Fisheries has determined that a Hawaiian monk seal pup known as PO7 died from injuries associated with a dog attack on O‘ahu.

Puncture wounds on the pup occurred prior to death and were consistent in size with bites from a dog. Hemorrhaging found in the pup’s body was consistent with shaking from a dog attack. As a matter of procedure, biological samples were submitted for analysis; however, the post-mortem examination, in this case, allows NOAA Fisheries to confirm the cause of death.

“We can also confirm that the pup was a female – making the loss even more impactful. Female seals are critical to the recovery of this endangered species,” a NOAA Fisheries spokesperson said Monday. “PO7 could have grown up to be a monk seal matriarch – birthing generations of new seals – so the pup’s death is a heavy loss to the population and conservation efforts.”


The NOAA Office of Law Enforcement is continuing to investigate the pup’s death, and an unidentified individual is cooperating with law enforcement officials. No further details are available at this time.

This is the third known death of a monk seal resulting from a dog attack in the main Hawaiian Islands. In 2014, pup RFX4 was killed on Kauaʻi, and in 2023, pup RS48 (also known as Hoʻomau Lehua) was killed on Oʻahu.

“We ask pet owners statewide to protect monk seals and other native wildlife by adhering to their county’s leash laws,” the NOAA spokesperson continued. “Even a well-trained dog could react unpredictably when encountering a wild seal.”


To help the Hawaiian Islands’ monk seal population, report all Hawaiian monk seal sightings, injuries and strandings to the statewide NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline at 888-256-9840.

In Hawaiʻi, leash laws are enforced by state, county and Humane Society officials. Safety issues regarding off-leash dogs can be reported to local police departments and the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources at 808-643-DLNR or via the DLNRTip app.

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