Hawaiian Monk Seal RJ16 Update

January 5, 2018

We are sad to share that RJ16, a juvenile male monk seal on O'ahu, died this afternoon. Though the expert NOAA team did everything they could, they were unable to save this very ill seal. We are currently looking into what caused the death of RJ16. Initial examinations ruled out signs of trauma or foreign body (i.e., fish hook) ingestion. Based on evaluation of his blood, we believe he may have been coping with a severe infection and we provided a broad spectrum of intensive care since his admission to the NOAA facility on December 28, 2017. Diagnostic tests are ongoing and may provide more definitive results in a few weeks.

RJ16 resting on the beach in September 2017. Photo credit: Hawaii Marine Animal Response


 

January 2, 2018

On Christmas Day, RJ16 a male monk seal born in 2017, was observed by members of the public logging (floating listlessly). This type of logging behavior can be indicative of underlying health problems, so NOAA made the decision to bring RJ16 into their monk seal treatment facilities at the NOAA Inouye Regional Center for a thorough health assessment on December 28. At this time, he is alert, responsive and calm but his prognosis remains guarded. X-rays and an ultrasound were conducted Thurs-Sat and RJ16 has no signs of trauma or foreign body (i.e., fish hook) ingestion. Based on evaluation of his blood, we believe it is possible that he is coping with a severe infection, but the exact type is not clear. At the NOAA IRC facility, RJ16 continues to receive intensive medical care including nutrition, fluids, vitamins and a broad range of medications several times daily. We’re conducting diagnostic tests that may help us determine the underlying cause. He is being treated for all the most likely possibilities in the meantime.

Left: RJ16 resting near his natal beach in September about a week after he weaned from his mother.
Right: RJ16 with his mother, RT10, in August shortly before he weaned.