NOAA team returns from field trip to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
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Federal officials provided an update Wednesday on the health of the critically endangered monk seals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Scientists recently returned from a months-long deployment monitoring the monk seal population, tallying births and intervening with sick and injured animals, according to a NOAA Fisheries update.
They reported that 148 pups were born in the NWHI in 2015, a 22 percent increase over the previous year.
The scientists used drones as a new tool to conduct research in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The unmanned aerial systems were used as extra “eyes in the sky” to monitor seals, seabirds and other wildlife.
The NOAA team reported 49 life-saving interventions this summer, including helping monk seals that were trapped in derelict fishing gear. The scientists also returned two seals to the NWHI after they were rehabilitated in June at Ke Kai Ola, the monk seal hospital at The Marine Mammal Center, according to the report.
Here are some photos from the deployment.
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