State briefs 11/28


Public reminded to report monk seals in distress

HONOLULU — State and federal officials are appealing to the public to be on the lookout for distressed Hawaiian monk seals after one known as Honey Girl was found with a hook embedded in her cheek and nearly died.

Charles Littman, lead scientist for the federal Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, said the tagged seal was captured by federal fisheries officials on Nov. 17 and was close to death. She had an ulua hook lodged in her cheek that had been there for at least three weeks.

The seal was taken to the Waikiki Aquarium and later to the Waikiki Zoo for reconstructive surgery, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://is.gd/VHwig3 ).

“She was on her last legs,” Littman said.

So far this year, state and federal officials responded to 14 Hawaiian monk seal hooking incidents, including three that ended in death.

Littnan and state Land Board Chairman William Aila held a news conference Monday to encourage people to report any monk seal that is skinny, appears malnourished or has a physical problem.

Aila said the tagged seal, which has given birth to seven known pups, had a severely swollen mouth and lost one-third of her tongue.

The majority of Hawaiian monk seals listed as an endangered species by the federal government live in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They were hunted nearly to extinction in the early 1900s.

Federal officials said the population of Hawaiian monk seals, totaling fewer than 1,200, is declining at about 4 percent annually.

Man beaten with tree branches

WAIANAE, Oahu — A man was seriously injured after several people on Oahu reportedly beat him with tree branches.

Hawaii News Now (http://is.gd/LlIkNH) says the 47-year-old man was taken to the hospital in serious condition very early Tuesday morning.

Emergency Medical Services say the man was beaten on Plantation Road in Waianea.

State will expedite roof inspections

HONOLULU — The state will be conducting roof inspections at state facilities following a collapse at a high school auditorium.

The Farrington High School auditorium roof collapsed on Friday amid heavy rains. Officials say there had been no reports of major problems. No one was hurt.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says the state now has decided to conduct inspections of roofs at schools, designated disaster shelters and other state facilities.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told reporters Monday that the state will expedite inspections of roofs that are aging, due for replacement or in need of repairs.

Hawaiian launches service to 2nd Australian city

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines is launching a new route to Australia.

Starting Tuesday, Hawaiian will fly nonstop between Honolulu and Brisbane three times a week.

Brisbane is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, a marine park of shallow reefs supporting sharks, coral, fish and many other species. It’s also the gateway to rainforests, Outback territory and the Gold Coast.

Brisbane is Hawaiian’s second destination in Australia. The airline also offers daily flights between Honolulu and Sydney.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority estimates the route will generate $83 million in visitor spending and $9 million in tax revenue for the islands each year.