Thursday, May 21, 2015

Coast Guard Service Also Provides Logistics - But Only for Rarest of Cargo

Life Saving Mission as Endangered Species Gets into Trouble
Shipping News Feature

US – If questioned, most members of the public would say they knew exactly what the duties of the Coast Guard consisted of, and it would be true to say the principal roles of the organisation consisted of watching over the national waters, ensuring the safety of those at sea and the security of the coastline. There are however, other tasks which the service is called upon to perform and this week involved the logistics required to ship a very rare and special piece of cargo on a life-saving mission.

Seals generally live in cold waters and the Hawaiian monk seal, which prefers a warmer environment, is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world with an estimated population of less than 1,100. Part of the true seal family, they are one of only two remaining monk seal species. When one of these incredibly rare creatures swallowed a fish hook, medical attention was urgently required, and that’s when the Coast Guard, liaising with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stepped in to transport the seal from Kauai to Oahu.

In fact the Coast Guard partners with NOAA on many living marine resources missions in Hawaii to protect endangered marine mammals including Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and humpback whales and an HC-130 Hercules airplane, manned by a crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, transported the seal to Oahu.

Safeguarding marine mammals falls under the Coast Guard’s living marine resources mission, in fact just one of the service's eleven statutory missions. The nation’s waterways and their ecosystems are vital to the country’s economy and health. This includes ensuring the country’s marine protected species are provided the protection necessary to help their populations recover to healthy, sustainable levels. Eric Roberts, marine mammal response coordinator for the 14th Coast Guard District commented:

“Coast Guard members in Hawaii take great pride in our unique operational ability to help recover and maintain our nation’s marine protected species. The transport of this critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal showcases the multi-agency efforts that are being coordinated to ensure this species is around for future generations.”

Photo: The rare warm water seal relaxes during the air transit.