Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, received an emergency call on May 9 to fly to Hawaii to help support a local rescue effort.
He participated in two successful procedures to remove accidentally-ingested fishing hooks from endangered monk seals on May 10.
One of the monk seals required surgery to remove the hook, which was lodged deep in the esophagus near the opening to the stomach. Dr. Haulena performed the anesthesia and collaborated with Dr. Robert Braun and veterinarians at the Honolulu Zoo to remove the hook. The seal is in recovery and rehabilitation is expected to take several days to weeks.
The Hawaiian monk seal is the most endangered North American pinniped. Some of the known threats to monk seals include habitat loss and injuries caused by human interactions.
The Aquarium is part of an international network of organizations that help to rescue and provide emergency care to animals in distress, especially those threatened with extinction. This rescue effort was a collaboration among several organizations including the Vancouver Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii Department of Land and National Resources and NOAA Fisheries Service Pacific Island Regional Office (Protective Resources Division).
The Aquarium’s own Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, a marine animal hospital, rescues, rehabilitates and releases up to 150 animals each year.