Please select your home edition
Edition
Gul 2019 GAMMA Leaderboard
Product Feature
Zhik Beanie
Zhik Beanie
Boat Insurance from Noble Marine


Full racing risks
New for old cover
www.noblemarine.co.uk

Tip from fisherman leads to monk seal rescue

by NOAA Fisheries 10 Aug 19:57 BST
Advances in monk seal rescues © NOAA Fisheries

Early on Saturday, July 27th, the Hawaii Marine Animal Rescue received a call about a hooked monk seal. A fisherman was reeling in his line when he realized there was an endangered Hawaiian monk seal at the end of it. After cutting the seal loose, he called the Hawaiian monk seal response line (1-888-256-9840). He gave critical, life-saving information to the response team.

The fisherman provided information that allowed the team to find the seal on Saturday afternoon. He told them about the set hook, trailing fishing line, gear identification, and seal's natural markings. These were all the same as the seal R333. Usually found between Ni?ihau and Kaua?i, R333 was recently spotted on O?ahu. Just as the response team arrived to remove the hook, he slipped away into the water in romantic pursuit of a female seal. On Sunday morning, he was seen again. This time, we successfully and safely captured him and brought to NOAA's Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu for further evaluation.

The NOAA team evaluated the seal to locate the hook and determine ways to remove it. An X-ray showed the hook lodged deep in the esophagus, just before the opening to the stomach. In the past, a hook that deep would usually require surgery, but surgery is invasive and recovery is long. It was the vet team's least desirable option.

Led by Dr. Michelle Barbieri, the team wanted all options on the table. This included modifying a de-hooking tool that had been used on animals with hooks lodged higher in the esophagus. Because of the hook's depth, and R333's size, they decided to try making the tool longer. They had to take it to a welder, who quickly figured out how to add 16 inches to the de-hooking tool. This would be their best chance at a less invasive procedure.

On Wednesday, the experts anesthetized R333 and assembled around the equipment. Dr. Gregg Levine used an endoscope to view the hook. The team wanted to try the extended de-hooking tool first before any surgical options. With tempered expectations, Dr. Barbieri gingerly slid the de-hooking tool along the length of the fishing line, turning and prodding where the hook was lodged. It took about 45 minutes, but she was able to free the hook from the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, called the cardiac sphincter.

The team wasn't out of the woods yet—the hook was still inside the seal. They worried about the damage it had caused. They used the endoscope again, this time to evaluate the tissue punctured by the hook. It was surprisingly minimal. The resulting wound would probably heal on its own. They still needed to pull the hook out, through the cardiac sphincter and along the entire length of the esophagus, without snagging the seal's internal tissues. They skillfully slid a piece of flexible PVC tubing over the tool and used it to cushion the point of the hook. It was removed without any snagging.

The vet team breathed a large, collective sigh of relief. They gave R333 antibiotics and fluids, and he recovered from anesthesia without complication. The team released him by noon on Thursday, outfitted with a satellite tag, microchip, and flipper tags. Good luck, R333! We hope you find romance.

Report Seal Sightings

Please report monk seal sightings by contacting your local stranding network, or sending an email to . Provide the following information:

  • Date and time.
  • Descriptive location—including island, beach name, and GPS coordinates (if available).
  • Estimated size of seal (length).
  • Identifying characteristics (flipper tags, scars, or other markings).
  • Seal's behavior—including interactions with people and other animals.
  • Photos (if possible).

Related Articles

Getting serious
As American Magic get their initial AC75 up and foiling first over the Defenders... As American Magic get their initial AC75 up and foiling first over the Defenders, a vessel known as K8 sat in the pond at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Posted today at 10:00 pm
GBR team in Marseille SailGP overall
Brits take fourth place in their first SailGP Championship season It was all on for today. The final two fleet races to decide the third place podium following by the climax to the season-long rivalry between Australia and Japan for the $1m prizemoney and the title of SailGP Season 1 Champion. Posted today at 9:01 pm
2019 Melges 24 Pre-worlds overall
Bombarda takes it all and the Melges 24 fleet flies toward the Worlds "Since the very first day of training here in Villasimius, the feeling with the race course and the boat has been positive. This positive wake has continued even in the following days of racing." Posted today at 7:52 pm
Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019: A foretaste!
A dress rehearsal prior to the start of leg one Despite the delayed start of the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, there was a festival atmosphere this Sunday in La Rochelle. Posted today at 7:33 pm
Rooster 420 Autumn Championship at Rutland
Glorious sunshine and breeze on Saturday, less so on Sunday! The weather wasn't particularly autumnal when the 420 fleet rolled up at Rutland SC for their Rooster sponsored Autumn Championships, with glorious sunshine and breeze across the lake promising some great sailing on Saturday. Posted today at 6:21 pm
Marseille SailGP overall
Tom Slingsby wins historic first SailGP Championship for Australia Tom Slingsby today made history, helming the Australia SailGP Team to victory over Nathan Outteridge's Japan SailGP Team in the SailGP Season 1 Championship Final Race. Posted today at 6:10 pm
FAST40+ One Ton Cup overall
Rán lifts the prestigious trophy for a second time in Le Havre Niklas Zennstrom's Rán has retained the One Ton Cup, winning the prestigious trophy in Le Havre for the second time. It was never easy for Rán who won five of the ten races sailed, often by just a few seconds. Posted today at 6:03 pm
RS Aero UK Midland Championships
Chris Hatton in the 9s and Roscoe Martin in the 7s dominate at Chelmarsh A perfect blue sky forecast of 12mph with gusts expected in the high teens brought a fleet of 22 boats together from across the Midlands. Most of the clubs represented reported growing numbers of this high adrenaline boat on their start lines. Posted today at 2:05 pm
RS600 youth sailing success
Single-handed trapeze skiff! What more could a teenager want? Single-handed trapeze skiff! What more could a teenager want? A boat of raw speed with a friendly fleet and space for everyone. This is what I'd heard about the RS600 class when I decided to join my Dad in the class at the RS Games in 2018. Posted today at 1:30 pm
The Clipper Race Leg 1, Race 2, Day 7
Scoring Gate points up for grabs On the day seven of Race 2: The Commodore's Cup, Visit Sanya, China and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam lead the charge to the Scoring Gate but until Qingdao reappears from Stealth Mode, the team to be awarded the first bonus points of Race 2 will remain undecided. Posted today at 11:22 am