Watch Researchers Vaccinate Wild Seals By Sneaking Up on Them


If doctors gave us our vaccinations by sneaking up on us while we were sunbathing, we’d probably be pretty annoyed. But, for the most part, the Hawaiian monk seals in Oahu don’t seem to mind. Researchers have been jabbing them with spring-loaded syringes while they sleep out on the beach in order to vaccinate them against the deadly Morbillivirus that has been threatening seal populations in other parts of the world.

In the short National Geographic video “The Strange—but Necessary—Task of Vaccinating Wild Seals,” researchers from the NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program explain how, and why, they’ve been vaccinating Hawaii’s wild seals. According to researcher Michelle Barbieri, without the vaccination against Morbillivirus, the already-endangered monk seal population could disappear entirely. Fortunately, she says, most of the seals react minimally to being stabbed with the syringe, returning to their beach-side naps almost immediately.

“The NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program is the only group that is proactively going out and vaccinating a large subset of a marine mammal population anywhere in the world right now,” Barbieri explains. “So, it really is a very unique program that we’re excited to be starting out one step at a time.”

Banner Image Credit: National Geographic, YouTube