Archive for November, 2010

Field Notes: Sept/Oct 2010

We need your help!  RK22, an adult female seal who has abandoned at least two of her pups in the past (2007 and 2008), has been sighted several times at North Larsen’s beach.  She has flipper tags 6FD/6FH.  It is important for us all to keep a close watch for her, and to photograph her as often as she is sighted.  This will help us determine whether she is pregnant, and help us formulate a plan in the case that she abandons future pup.  In both 2009 and 2010, RK22 disappeared toward the end of her apparent pregnancies, and reappeared 6-8 weeks later, no longer pregnant.  There are several possibilities here: she may be pupping and nursing successfully, she may be losing the pup(s) before or after their birth, she may be abandoning them.  In order for us to learn more about RK22 and ensure the safety of her future pups, we need to keep a close eye on her.   To learn more about RK22’s pup, Ho’ailona (KP2), go here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/kp2.htm

Speaking of mama seals, Kauai’s seven-time mom RK12 is looking quite pregnant.  Our observations indicate that she will likely have her next pup in December 2010!  Her last pup (Mahalo’eha, RA36) was born the day after Thanksgiving Day 2009 at Maha’ulepu.

Photo by Michele Bane, RK12 at Lawai Beach on 10/16/2010

Pohaku (RO28), our young adult female seal who was de-hooked on Good Friday 2010 and frequents Poipu and Larsen’s beaches, has flown the coop!  She was spotted on Oahu at Kaena Point just in time for the Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count!  She has been re-sighted twice, and aside from a new cookiecutter shark bite on her back, she looks great!

The adult male seal with the bleach mark V28 has been sighted on the east shore several times recently.  Our PIFSC research team first sighted him earlier this year, when he turned out to be a less-than-ideal candidate for a cell phone tracking tag.  His body condition looks good, but his behavior and appearance were slightly abnormal.  In particular, his eyes were of concern.  If you see V28, please report him to the Monk Seal Hotline (651-7668), and take photos from a distance of his eyes if possible.

Our Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count on October 16th went very well, with all zones covered by dedicated volunteers!!  We counted 12 seals on Kauai, and the other islands’ counts went as follows:  Oahu – 12, Kaho’olawe – 3, Molokai – 4, Lani – 1, Maui – 1, Big Island – 1, Ni’ihau – 47!  Please keep in mind that this count is not our most scientific approach to population assessment, as a good number of seals were likely in the water during the count.  It is, however, a great way to build community awareness of our critically endangered seals!

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