Coast Guard transports critically endangered monk seals

[music] Monk seals are really important to Hawaii because not only are they endangered, and there’s only about 1,200 or so left in the population, but they’re also the only native pinniped to these waters. If the public sees a monk seal that needs help because its sick or injured, then they can call the NOAA hotline. It’s 1 (888) 256-9840 and we also like to know even if seals are just somewhere hauled out we still like to know that and we can send someone out to check on them and make sure the public nearby knows how to coexist peacefully with that seal. One of the best ways is to hold your thumb out in front of you and if you can hide that seal behind your thumb you know you’re a safe distance away. This is one of our 11 statutory missions and this is a great one because it’s part of our living marine resources program and this allows us to not only to be an enforcement arm, for the protection of our natural resources but also to help with conservation. And this is an endangered species, critically endangered, and this is a unqiue opportunity for the Coast Guard to play a part in the recovery of this species. We’ve been managing that program since 2008 and since that time we’ve moved approximately 46 animals and we average about six animals per year that we actually support for conservation requests. Now that the Marine Mammal Center has built a facility on the Big Island the NOAA folks that are in the Northwesterns can actually bring seals onboard the NOAA ships, we can triage, begin to provide medical care, break into give them the calories that they need to survive and then transfer them to our partners in Kona where they’ve built a wonderful volunteer base of people that can care for those animals for the months that it takes to get them back up to the weight that they need to survive. The Coast Guard has been instrumental multiple times a year at helping us get seals where they need to go – Whether it’s to medical or back to their homes. And this particular transport is a milestone and the reason for that is because we are moving seven seals and this is the largest transfer that we’ve done in recent history. My first flying the Hawaiian Monk Seals back to Kona – pretty rewarding flight. Growing up I volunteered with NOAA doing fish counts It was cool to fly some seals around for them. As the Coast Guard we pride ourselves with being lifesavers. This is a mission where we can actually contribute to saving an entire species. [music]

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