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Officials capture monk seal that bit swimmers

October 10, 2013
The Maui News

KAILUA-KONA (AP) - A 6-month-old endangered Hawaiian monk seal that has had previous contact with humans bit two swimmers Tuesday in Kamakahonu Bay.

Wildlife officials said the 100-pound seal may have been trying to engage the swimmers in play, said Michelle Barbieri, a veterinarian with The Marine Mammal Center.

Two marine biologists and a veterinarian captured the seal, which will be relocated, West Hawaii Today reported.

The swimmers, a pair of triathletes, were not harassing the seal, Barbieri said. Young seals often are curious and can get into trouble because of it, she said. One man was bitten on a knee and the other was bitten on the side of his abdomen. They were treated for minor injuries.

The pup has a bleach mark on its back. The Marine Mammal Center and federal wildlife officials in recent weeks had received reports of the seal on west Hawaii beaches and boat ramps.

Barbieri is overseeing the monk seal in a cage as wildlife officials decide where to relocate it. The Kona area is not ideal for the monk seal. More than 2,000 triathletes are preparing for the Ironman World Championship on Saturday. The race begins and ends at Kailua Pier.

A decision should be made in the next 48 hours, Barbieri said.



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