Suspect sought in seal's slaying


POSTED: Friday, December 18, 2009

Federal officials are asking for help to find the killer of a Hawaiian monk seal whose body was found this week off the shore of Molokai.

A resident found the 400-pound adult male floating in waters on the southeastern side of Molokai, said David Schofield, a marine mammal response coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Officials recovered the animal's body on Tuesday. A necropsy found the animal had been intentionally killed, Schofield said.

Because the death is under criminal investigation, Schofield could not disclose how it died.

George Peabody, publisher of the Molokai Advertiser-News, said he saw the seal dead at Kahinapohaku Fishpond and did not see any significant injuries.

The seal, in its 20s, was known to frequent Molokai since 2005 and was distinguished by a missing rear flipper, Schofield said. Seals usually live to their 20s or 30s, he added.

Hawaiian monk seals, which are a protected endangered species, number about 1,200 in the world today. Killing or harming a monk seal can result in criminal and civil penalties of $50,000 and one year in prison.

Anyone with information should call the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement hot line at (800) 853-1964.