HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. authorities on Tuesday offered a $5,000 reward for information on who killed a Hawaiian monk seal after one of the critically endangered animals was found dead on Oahu this year.
The female seal known as Malama was found dead on March 12 at Ohikilolo, a spot between Keaau Beach Park and Makua Valley, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release.
A post-mortem investigation found the cause of death to be “blunt force trauma.” National experts on marine mammal radiology and forensics concluded the animal was intentionally killed, the release said.
Last year, Malama was treated for malnutrition at the Marine Mammal Center’s Hawaiian monk seal hospital on the Big Island. She was released in January, after which she was in good condition and displaying normal seal behavior.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered seal species in the world. About 1,570 of the animals are in the wild. About 1,200 seals live in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which are a string of atolls largely uninhabited by people. An additional 400 live in the main Hawaiian Islands, where Honolulu and other cities are located. They are found nowhere else.
In 2021, a Hawaiian monk seal was found fatally shot on Molokai Island. It was the third intentional killing of a monk seal on the rural island in 2021 and the seventh in 10 years, according to NOAA.
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