POSTED: Monday, April 27, 2009

Humans might have caused death of Kauai monk seal

Federal officials suspect humans caused the death of a 4-year-old monk seal on Kauai and have opened an investigation.

Boogieboarders discovered the monk seal, known by its tag number, I-19, dead and partially in the water at a Kaumakani Beach April 19, said David Schofield, marine mammal response coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“;We suspect that human interaction caused the death,”; Schofield said. “;Based on the necropsy, there was some evidence of trauma to the head.”;

The day before, scientists conducting a monk seal count a few miles away at Glass Beach spotted the 200-pound seal alive and healthy, Schofield said.

The federal Endangered Species Act allows fines of up to $50,000 and a year's imprisonment for harm to the seals, which number about 1,200 worldwide.

NOAA asks that anyone with information call (800) 853-1964 or (888) 256-9840.


2 island-based Coast Guard cutters to receive upgrades

Two high-endurance Coast Guard cutters based in Honolulu will benefit from $10 million in spending by the Homeland Security Department, Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday.

The money will pay for upgrades to boiler controls and refrigeration systems and replacements of fire pumps, fire and smoke detection systems and auxiliary saltwater pumps. Two of the Coast Guard's 12 high-endurance cutters, the Jarvis and Rush, are based in Honolulu.


Isle hospitals are talk's focus

Dr. Benjamin B.C. Young, a medical education historian, will discuss the “;History of Hawaii Hospitals”; in an illustrated talk at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kanaina Building (formerly the Archives Building) on the Iolani Palace grounds.

The Hawaiian Historical Society is sponsoring his talk as part of its annual membership meeting, starting at 7 p.m. with election of trustees. The program is free and open to the public. Parking is free on the palace grounds.

Call 537-6271.


Neighbor Islands

POLIHALE STATE PARK, KAUAI » The work of volunteers allowed the state to reopen a park five months after flood damage shut it down. The Department of Land and Natural Resources reopened Polihale State Park Saturday. The department's state parks division did not have the money to make repairs to an entrance road, a bridge, water system and restrooms, so community members donated time and money to do the work themselves. The state has not yet estimated the value of the volunteers' efforts, but it could be near $200,000.

HANA, MAUI » Gov. Linda Lingle has released $500,000 for a development plan to consider improvements to the pier and infrastructure at Hana Harbor. The plan is scheduled for completion in October. The project cost estimate is $20 million.

KAWAIHAE, HAWAII » The federal government is funding $3.1 million in improvements to Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island. Akimeka LLC has been contracted for the design and construction of pier apron and harbor yard improvements. The project is expected to be done by October.