Archive for November, 2011

A Hui Hou TT40

It saddens us to report that our oldest seal, TT40, passed away sometime between the evening of 11/10 and 0500 on 11/12.  TT40 was at least 27 years old, and provided amazing learning experiences for veterinarians, researchers, response staff and volunteers alike throughout his life. It’s likely that we have him to thank for quite a few of the younger generation of seals around here, too.  TT40 originated from Laysan island in the NWHI, and has been on Kauai since the mid-1990s.  In 2004, he swallowed a large hook and was transported to Oahu for successful surgery to remove the hook.  He lived through four sets of flipper tags!  He was a favorite of many.  TT40 has been showing his age for quite some time – you may recall that his molt started but never finished at the beginning of this year.    He was spotted by a fisher in the wee hours of the morning.


Special thanks to all of the volunteers and members of the public who helped to carry TT40 from the beach.  Thanks to our whole necropsy team too – our veterinarian, PIFSC scientist, PIRO response coordinators, and volunteers!  Finally, thanks to everyone who helped take care of TT40 throughout his long life.

We have not determined TT40’s cause of death, but it appeared to be a result of his age.  We may learn more from the pathology results.   He will be cremated and returned to the ocean.

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Photo credit: S. Johnson

RK54, the male weaned seal born at North Larsen’s in April of this year, had a plastic ring around his muzzle on October 11, preventing him from eating normally.   Our team was able to remove the ring and check the muzzle for injuries.  Thanks to our volunteers and members of the public who helped with this important response – go team!!

We have had several sightings of T21M, an adult male seal from

Photo credit: D. Lee

Laysan in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  He was relocated to the main Hawaiian islands in 1994, and was recently flipper tagged 7GY/7GZ and fitted with a cell phone tag on Oahu.  He was most recently seen at Lawai Kai in the National Tropical Botanical Gardens!

Photo credit: M. Miyashiro

RB14 (four-year-old female) and RA16 (two-year-old male) had a molting party on the east side again this year!  RA16 has now successfully molted.

RK56 (weaner male, born at Miloli’i in May 2011 to RK30) has been very curious with humans in shallow water for the past week at Ke’e Beach, at the end of the road on the north shore.  He has been observed following snorkelers, and checking out children face-to-face in the very shallow water.  This is dangerous behavior for RK56 and for the people near him.  As a newly weaned seal, he is curious and nonaggressive.  However, if humans reinforce this behavior (with food or play), he will begin to expect and demand the reinforcement, and could become aggressive to those who don’t behave the way he expects them to.  Also, as he grows, he will become larger and stronger; and hormonal changes will cause him to exhibit new behaviors that will certainly be dangerous to his human playmates. We would like to monitor RK56 very closely. If you see him please report it to our Kauai Monk Seal Sighting Hotline at 808-651-7668, keep your distance, and encourage others to do the same.

RK13 (flipper tags 5AA/5AB) is an adult female with a chronic lesion on her rump.  RK13 has had a “lump” since 2008, but it has recently swelled, likely become infected, burst, and begun to slough. We are prepared to send a team to sample and medicate her, but presently the lesion seems to be subsiding on its own.  This, combined with the possibility that she is pregnant, warrant the need to evaluate very carefully before handling her.   For now, we are closely monitoring the progress of the lesion.  If you see her, please report her to the hotline, photograph her full body and the lesion, and email photos the same day to 

UPDATE to Field Report: August/September 2011

Juvenile male seal RT12was seen on August 30 with a small hook in the skin of his belly, between his umbilicus and his

Photo credit: M. Bane

penile opening.  At that time, the hook had a red transparent lure and about 3 feet of fine monofilament attached.  He was observed a few days later with only a few inches of line remaining. He has now been seen several times with no hook or line!

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