KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaiian monk seal pup found malnourished on Molokai is now in the care of the Marine Mammal Center’s hospital on the Big Island.
The pup named Sole is in stable condition at the Ke Kai Ola facility in Kailua-Kona after it was rescued last week.
The male pup born in late June was prematurely weaned from its mother earlier this month, the center said. The short nursing time caused the pup to have low body weight and minimal reserves, creating concern for wildlife officials.
“After several consultations with the patient-residents and the Kalaupapa community, the decision was made to rescue the animal,” said Eric Brown, Marine Ecologist at Kalaupapa National Historic Park.
Center veterinarians, supported by the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rescued the pup and flew it from Molokai to the Big Island animal hospital.
“With only a few hundred monk seals living in the main Hawaiian Islands, the survival of each individual is critical to the recovery of the population,” said Claire Simeone, the center’s hospital director. “Conservation takes a village. We are so grateful to our partners for their support in achieving our mission, and ensuring this pup made it safely to Ke Kai Ola.”
The pup is now feeding on a blended fish mash, and it will transition to eating whole fish as it grows stronger, Simeone said. The center plans to keep minimal human contact with the seal, so it can have the best chance of survival in the wild.
The center has rehabilitated 23 monk seals and returned them back to the wild since the facility opened in 2014.