Four malnourished endangered Hawaiian monk seals getting help they need at Big Island hospital

Four malnourished endangered Hawaiian monk seals getting help they need at Big Island hospital

On Thursday, officials said that four malnourished Hawaiian monk seals have been shifted from isolated atolls to a Big Island hospital to feed the endangered animals with fluids and fish to increase their weight and improve health.

Dr. Shawn Johnson, chief veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center, a California-based nonprofit operating the hospital in Kailua-Kona, said that the seals will probably stay there for at least some months while they gain someweight and strength. Once the seals become healthy, they will be moved back to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Among the seals, two were prematurely weaned by mothers and one was a yearling. The fourth one was an extremely underweight seal. Among the hospitalized animals, three were females.

Charles Littnan, main scientist for the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program at the National Marine Fisheries Service, said that just about 1,300 of the animals are left in the wild and the population in the distant Northwestern Hawaiian Islands has been seeing a 2% drop every year. He is hopeful that nursing malnourished seals back to health will play a part in halting the decline.

With the existence of the monk seal hospital, which was constructed a couple of years back, now officials have treatment options they lacked in the past.

Littnan said, “All of these pups and young animals would have been left behind in the past and almost certainly would have died”.Littnan is hopeful that with the passage of time, the rescued seals are going to help boost the seal population by reproducing.

Johnson mentioned that the youngest among the rescued seals is a male pup born in the spring and due to very bad health is being fed with a tube. The veterinarians have been feeding the little one with a mixture of salmon oil, vitamins and mashed herring five times per day. The rest of the seals have been given thawed frozen herring.