Reward offered for information on who killed the endangered Hawaiian monk seal

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. authorities on Tuesday offered a $5,000 reward for information about 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 March 12 in Ohikilolo, a location between Keaau Beach Park and the Makua Valley, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release.

A post-mortem inquest found the cause of death to be ‘blunt trauma’. National marine mammal radiology and forensic experts have concluded that the animal was intentionally killed, the statement said.

Last year, Malama was treated for malnutrition at the Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital at the Marine Mammal Center on the Big Island. She was released in January, after which she was in good condition and exhibiting 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 on Hawaii’s remote northwest islands, which are a chain of largely uninhabited atolls. Another 400 live in the main Hawaiian Islands, where Honolulu and other cities are located. They cannot be found anywhere else.

In 2021, a Hawaiian monk seal was found fatally shot on the island of Molokai. 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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