(ABOVE VIDEO) Footage shows the grand opening and blessing of Ke Kai Ola – the new Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona – courtesy The Marine Mammal Center. It features an interview with Dr. Jeff Boehm, executive director at The Marine Mammal Center.
Video courtesy The Marine Mammal Center, edited by Big Island Video News
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – A milestone moment in the ongoing effort to save the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal was celebrated in Kona last week.
On September 2, The Marine Mammal Center held a Grand Opening for the new, $3.2 million Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital. Named Ke Kai Ola (The Healing Sea), the hospital is dedicated to the rescue and care of sick and injured monk seals.
We built this hospital to save a species. Thanks to funding from the Firedoll Foundation as well as a very generous family foundation and hundreds of other donors throughout the world, this hospital can provide life-saving medical care to this critically endangered species.”Dr. Jeff Boehm, executive director at The Marine Mammal Center
Daniel Kaniela Akaka, Jr. and his family blessed the new facility, which includes two neonate rehabilitation pens and pools, quarantine pen areas, two larger pens and pools for juvenile seals, as well as a medical lab, staff office, patient food preparation kitchen and education pavilion.
The Marine Mammal Center has rescued and provided medical care for more than 18,500 marine mammals along the central and northern California coast since 1975. The facility has already taken care of a few patients. This video was put together in July 2014, and was uploaded recently to compliment the grand opening of Ke Kai Ola.
There is an update on these four animals:
…the Center was also able to celebrate the release of the first four patients treated at the hospital. These four young, malnourished monk seals were admitted to Ke Kai Ola on July 9 after being rescued in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Veterinary experts and trained volunteers from The Marine Mammal Center cared for the seals until they were deemed healthy enough to return to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on August 31.The Marine Mammal Center media release (Sept. 2)
From The Marine Mammal Center:
The Hawaiian monk seal population is estimated at fewer than 1,100 individuals and continues to decline. Fewer than one in five Hawaiian monk seal pups in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands survive their first year due to threats like entanglement in ocean trash, changes in the food chain and predation.
“It takes a village to care for sick or injured monk seals,” says Dr. Frances Gulland, Marine Mammal Commissioner and senior scientist at The Marine Mammal Center. “We are honored to bring our veterinary and husbandry experience and now partner with the National Marine Fisheries Service, whose work to date is responsible for saving about 30 percent of the monk seals alive today.”
The Marine Mammal Center will use a strong community volunteer base for rescues of injured and sick seals in and around the Hawaiian Islands and for animal husbandry at the new hospital. Volunteers will also play a role in public outreach programs to provide education about Hawaiian monk seals and conservation efforts.The Marine Mammal Center media release