Honolulu – For more than 20 years, the sight of monk seal R5AY, known as Honey Girl, delighted hundreds of people, as she rested on and gave birth to at least a dozen pups on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i beaches. Yesterday NOAA fisheries received notification that she was found dead on a windward O‘ahu beach.
The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) assisted NOAA in transporting her body to Kualoa Ranch for burial, where a pule (blessing) was performed by a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. The City and County of Honolulu Roads Maintenance Division and Hawai‘i Marine Mammal Rescue (HMAR) also assisted.
Her cause of death is not apparent. However, leading causes of deaths for monk seals in the main Hawaiian island is toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by feral cats, and drowning when seals get caught up in illegal lay nets. Toxoplasmosis was the cause of death of two seals so far in 2020.
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We are deeply saddened that Honey Girl, one of the most iconic representatives of her entire endangered native endemic Hawaiian species, will no longer grace beaches around O‘ahu. Her legacy calls for our collective respect and care for all our Hawaiian monk seals.”