Thursday, May 14, 2015
5/01/2015 Loss of RF22
Aloha MMRN Members,
As some of you know, the yearling male, RF22, was found dead near Anini Beach, Kauai on Monday morning, May 11, 2015. This seal was born in May, 2014, at Waipake to RK22 and had become a routine north shore seal hauling out in various places between Princeville and Ke'e Beach. F22's carcass was sent to Oahu for a full necropsy and X-rays which were completed yesterday.
We want to share the initial findings with all of you. However, as with all necropsies these are preliminary findings and should not be taken as definitive conclusions. Results from histopathology and disease screening labs are pending and are not expected for at least a couple of months.
Preliminary findings from our veterinarian Dr. Michelle Barbieri include, lacerations to the muzzle and lip and associated damage to the skull that are consistent with injuries caused by a propeller and vessel strike. Given the apparent internal bleeding in multiple tissues in and around the head, the lack of significant findings suggestive of underlying disease, the good body condition and presence of food in the stomach, the presumptive cause of death from necropsy is trauma. It cannot be ruled out that drowning may have occurred around the time of the traumatic injury.
· It is rare for monk seals to be struck by vessels
· This is the first known monk seal case for which propeller strike is the probable cause of death. In the past 20 years of tracking seal injuries and deaths in Hawaii, we know of 5 cases where seals had scars indicative of propeller wounds, but these were not lethal injuries.
· There were no obvious signs of disease in this individual, but further diagnostics are needed to complete this assessment. Therefore, samples will be analyzed for any signs of compromised health that may have predisposed this individual to boat strike.
· While we have no reason to think this was anything other than purely accidental, this unfortunate situation is a good reminder that we can keep seals wild by not feeing them or giving other incentive to approach boats or people. We should remind the public to view seals from a distance, not interacting/attempting to play with them, and not feeding them.