Saturday, July 3, 2004

The monk seal known as TT40 is shown when it was first brought to Oahu on June 11 for medical attention. Veterinarians removed a 5-inch hook that was lodged in its esophagus.

Monk seal returning to
Kauai after surgery

The male seal is in "good shape" after
the removal of a fishhook

The Hawaiian monk seal that was airlifted to Oahu for surgery to remove a fishhook last month will be released back on Kauai on Tuesday.

"He's in really good shape," said Wende Goo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration public affairs specialist. "He's eating well and swimming happily in his tank."

Veterinarians who observed the seal, known as TT40 from its flipper identification tag, decided it would be best for it to live in its natural habitat.

TT40 is at Kewalo Research Facility and will be transported to Barbers Point, where U.S. Coast Guard officials will airlift it in a C-130 cargo plane to Kauai. TT40 will be released on a remote beach.

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted TT40 from Kauai to Oahu on June 11 when it was spotted with a fishing line coming from its mouth. Mammal specialists removed about 15 feet of fishing line and a leader from its mouth.

After one failed procedure, veterinarians successfully removed a 5-inch circle hook that was lodged in TT40's esophagus in a 5 1/2-hour surgery June 16.

TT40 is a 500-pound, 20-year-old male seal. The Hawaiian monk seal has been an endangered species since 1976.


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