Hawaiian monk seal back in the wild after surgery removes fishing line, hook from stomach

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HONOLULU — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have sent back to the wild an endangered Hawaiian monk seal that recently had surgery to remove a fish hook from his stomach.

The seal known as RE-74 headed straight for the ocean after being released from a cage at White Plains Beach on Oahu Friday.

The 12-year-old male seal was found with a fishing line coming out of its mouth on Dec. 29. An endoscopy discovered a hook embedded in his stomach.

A team of veterinarians removed the fishing line and hook on New Year's Eve.

The seal was born on Kipukai Beach on Kauai. He's spent most of his time on Oahu in recent years.

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species. Their population is declining about 4 percent annually.

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