Animal Rights – The Hawaiian monk seal species found itself under siege by one of its own when a 400-pound sociopathic seal named KE18 went on a violent rampage that left two seals dead and wounded at least 11 more, many of them helpless pups.
Scientists believe that the seals, which are the most endangered marine mammal in the United States due to the hazards posed by fishing nets, sharks, humans, and the occasional attack from one of its own, are likely to be extinct in less than 100 years.
“It’s really disheartening when the species you’re trying to protect is becoming the troublemaker,” said Charles Littnan, the lead scientist for the Hawaiian monk seal research program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
One of seals murdered by the brute would have likely given birth to four or five pups, Littman added.
Authorities had originally sentenced the murderous seal to death but were unable to locate the villain when they traveled to the Kure Atoll, site of the bulk of the attacks, to carry out the execution.
Having evaded authorities at the scene of the crime KE18 was later apprehended at Midway Atoll, a 55-mile journey from Kure.
NOAA officials then decided to spare the nine-year-old KE18 and he is currently in quarantine in a Waikiki Aquarium. He is awaiting transfer to the University of California-Santa Cruz, where he will be studied for the eating habits and calorie consumption of the monk seals.
Monk seals have dwelled in the waters off of the Hawaiian Islands for millions of years but in recent years their numbers have dropped sharply, from 15,000 to a mere 1,100.
Read more at the Associated Press.