One of Oahu’s best known seals was found dead Thursday on the island’s Windward side, officials have confirmed.
R5AY — commonly known as “Honey Girl” — was at least 22 years old and had given birth to at least 11 pups, according to various reports.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries spokeswoman Jolene Lau said the agency is responding to R5AY’s death. Monk seals can live more than 30 years although most don’t, according to the agency.
COVID-19 restrictions prevented a post-mortem exam to determine the cause of death, a state Department of Land and Natural Resources release stated.
The release added, however, that toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by feral cats, and drowning in illegal fishing nets are the leading causes of death for monk seals in the main Hawaiian islands.
Honey Girl had been hooked multiple times by fishing gear over the years. One such incident in 2012 left the prominent monk seal emaciated and nearly starved, requiring emergency surgery and a rehabilitation stint at the Waikiki Aquarium.