State briefs for November 23

Hawaiian monk seal dies after battle with disease

HONOLULU (AP) — A male Hawaiian monk seal has died at a Big Island marine mammal hospital after a five-week battle with toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic disease spread by cat feces, officials said Monday.

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Toxoplasmosis is the biggest disease threat facing the Hawaiian monk seal, a critically endangered species numbering just 1,300 animals.

The seal that died last week Wednesday was known as RW22, the Marine Mammal Center said in a news release. The center called on cat owners to keep their feline pets indoors and dispose of cat litter in the trash to protect the species.

Feral cat feces are also a concern. Stray cats have no predators in Hawaii and their numbers have ballooned. Marketing research commissioned by the Hawaiian Humane Society in 2015 estimated Oahu alone had 300,000 feral cats.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a report early last month that RW22 had a fishing line in his mouth off Oahu. An X-ray revealed the seal had swallowed some fishing gear. He also showed signs of partial facial nerve paralysis and a corneal ulcer to his left eye, a suspected symptom of toxoplasmosis.

The Coast Guard flew RW22 to the seal hospital in Kailua-Kona, where veterinarians treated the seal in hopes of slowing the rate of infection. He regained some stamina and movement but continued to deteriorate.

The center plans to send tissue and blood samples from RW22 to NOAA Fisheries to confirm the cause of death.

Navy says fuel, water leaked from facility

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy said Monday it has stopped the spill of a water and fuel mixture from a drain line near an underground fuel storage facility that serves Pearl Harbor.

The Navy said in a statement the liquid flowed from a fire suppression system into a tunnel, but it stopped this at about 2 a.m. The Navy removed 14,000 gallons of the mixture from the tunnel and placed it in an above ground storage tank.

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The Navy said there were no signs the fuel had escaped into the environment and drinking water was safe. It’s investigating the incident.

Officials said the leak was downhill from the Red Hill fuel storage facility and not directly connected to the main tanks.

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