UPDATED: The discovery comes after officials disclosed another young seal was most likely killed intentionally on the island in March.

Another endangered young monk seal was found dead this week on Oahu, although in this case federal authorities are still trying to determine how the pup died.

RS48, also known as Ho‘omau Lehua, was found dead Monday on the North Shore, according to officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Hawaii Marine Animal Response crews brought the 3-month-old pup’s body to Ford Island, where NOAA Fisheries personnel are conducting an autopsy, the federal agency said in a release Tuesday.

Monk Seal Hoomau Lehua
Endangered monk seal pup Ho‘omau Lehua was found dead Monday on the North Shore. Authorities are investigating the cause of death. (Hawaii Marine Animal Response/2023)

NOAA said it will provide updates on the incident when they’re available.

Update: NOAA conducted a necropsy on Ho’omau Lehua on Tuesday. The lab analysis will take more time but the agency confirmed that it found no blunt force trauma to the body.

Ho‘omau Lehua’s death comes a week after NOAA Fisheries officials announced what they say was most likely the intentional killing a few months ago of another young female seal, Malama. Malama’s body was found March 13 at ‘Ohikilolo, a beach on the island’s Leeward Coast, with blunt-force trauma wounds. 

NOAA Fisheries officials said last week that it was important not to announce Malama’s death until they had conducted a “full scope of analysis” to conclude the seal had most likely been killed intentionally. Malama was about 9 months old when she was killed.

The Fisheries officials say healthy female seals are especially important toward the endangered species’ recovery because they can grow the population with every new pup.

The agency encourages anyone with information regarding Ho‘omau Lehua’s death to call NOAA’s enforcement hotline at (808) 853-1964.

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