Monk seal dies as team tries to catch it
An endangered Hawaiian monk seal died Tuesday as a team of scientists tried to capture it to attach data instruments and conduct a health screening, officials said.
The female seal had been frequenting Hanauma Bay for several days and had a fish hook caught in its rear flipper, catching the attention of scientists from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.
Scientists tried to place a net over the seal, but it hit its head on a rock and died, said Sam Pooley, director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.
The seal, which was about 2 to 3 years old, died from trauma to the head, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration veterinarian confirmed.
"The people involved in the attempted capture are very upset at what happened because these guys and gals dedicate their lives to the recovery of these seals," Pooley said.
It was the third or fourth fatality from a seal capture in 25 years of capturing seals, Pooley said.
Hawaiian monk seals are the only endangered marine mammals that live entirely in U.S. waters. About 1,200 of the seals live throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Pooley said.