RABBIT ISLAND, Hawaii (KHNL) --A seven-month-old Hawaiian monk seal is recovering after a NOAA team removed a three-pronged spear from her head. Authorities aren't sure if it was an attack or an accident, but they're urging people to be careful.
A NOAA response team headed to Manana Island, also known as Rabbit island, on Tuesday afternoon after a volunteer spotted the injured animal. Members found "RL-12" with the spear embedded in her head.
"We know that the seal is lucky in that it was a very superficial injury and it missed the important things like the eyes and ears and the nose and things like that," explained David Schofield of the NOAA Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.
Team members removed the weapon. They also found a spear shaft about 30 feet away. The wildlife sanctuary is off-limits to the public, but it's unclear if the incident spearing happened in the ocean or on land.