At least one other endangered monk seal has been killed by a dog in recent years. Several have been injured.

An unleashed dog is the probable cause of death of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal found with puncture wounds to her head and flippers last month on Oahu, federal authorities announced Thursday.

The carcass of the 4-month-old female pup RS48, also known as Ho‘omau Lehua, was recovered by federal authorities June 12 on the North Shore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seal pup RS48, also known as Hoʻomau Lehua, likely died in a fatal dog attack, according to federal officials. (Courtesy: Hawaii Marine Animal Response/2023)

The seal pup was last seen swimming June 6 in the same general area where a necropsy conducted by NOAA suggests she died two days later.

Ho‘omau Lehua is the second young seal that appears to have been killed in a dog attack, federal officials said in a press release.

In 2014, NOAA volunteers found a 2-week-old seal pup dead on a Kauai beach. Federal regulators later determined that the seal pup had been mauled by a dog. Four other seals suffered punctures and scratches in the dog attack but survived their injuries.

One of the seals that survived the deadly 2014 dog attack was found bludgeoned to death on a beach in Anahola less than six months later.

Even when a dog attack is not immediately fatal, the resulting injuries can develop life-threatening infections. Dogs can also transmit diseases to monk seals.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author