Updated: December 4, 2023
A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal, identified as RQ76 (also known as Malama), was most likely intentionally killed a few months ago on Oʻahu, according to new information released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The agency reports that initial findings of an investigation show the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
“Given this extremely serious finding, we then consulted with national experts in marine mammal radiology and forensics. Based on the extensive analysis, we concluded that Malama was most likely intentionally killed through blunt force trauma,” agency official said.
Malama was reportedly rescued on Oʻahu last year because she was significantly malnourished after weaning. After successful rehabilitation, NOAA reports she was released back on Oʻahu in January 2023. After release, she was observed regularly in good body condition and exhibiting normal seal behavior, according to the agency.
NOAA reports that on March 12, 2023, Malama was found deceased at ʻŌhikilolo, between Keaʻau Beach Park and Mākua Valley, on Oʻahu.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a potential reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to successful prosecution of those responsible for Malama’s death.
Anyone with information is asked to contact NOAA’s Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964.
The investigation is ongoing.
To report a stranded marine mammal, or any monk seal sighting, call our Marine Wildlife Hotline at 888-256-9840.