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Archive for February, 2012

Field Report: January 2012

A juvenile male seal (2-3 years old, about 200 pounds) was found dead on the northeast shore of Kauai on the evening of January 3, 2012. The seal was untagged, and believed to be a seal that volunteers have observed before. NOAA, DLNR/DAR and DoCARE responded on the scene.  NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement was also engaged immediately, and is investigating this case.  The necropsy was conducted on the morning of January 4, and revealed that this was a suspicious death.  We cannot rule out foul play in this case.  Disclosing any additional information about this case could compromise the investigation.  Anyone having information related to any of the recent monk seal deaths should call 1-855-DLNR-TIP.  See our “News” section for details on the reward for more information.

Hawaiian monk seal RK13

Photo credit: Miyashiro

RK13 (adult female, skin lesions since 2008, blind left eye, recent shark bites and canal-resting behavior) is doing really well; she is healed up and moving normally!

Hawaiian monk seal RK54

Photo credit: Miyashiro.

RK54 (juvenile male, born at Larsen’s in 2011 to RK22) hauled out in the Aliomanu area on 1/11 with a large ulua hook in the left side of his mouth, with a trailing leader and fish head attached.  We had a successful de-hooking, and a great training/learning experience for staff and volunteers.   RK54 was observed on 1/21 with blood on his nose/muzzle.   Possibilities include that (1) he was hooked again on the nose and removed the hook himself, (2) he had an infection or illness causing him to bleed from the nose, or (3) some other injury occurred to the area.  He has since been observed by volunteers and DLNR staff; his appearance and behavior have returned to normal, but we are still monitoring him closely.  What a month for this little guy!

RK56 (juvenile male, too curious about humans last Fall) has been frequently seen over the past few weeks at Kalapaki Bay.  Observers note that he has not sought out any human interaction, and it has been endearing to see how the local folks who regularly picnic in the area have taken to protecting him.

Hawaiian monk seal TT40

Photo credit: Steciuk.

On 1/20, a memorial for male seal TT40 was led by one of Kauai’s kupuna at Maha’ulepu Beach, one of the seal’s regular haul-out locations.  It was a beautiful day.  The event was attended by several volunteers, NOAA staff, and a television film crew.   Kupuna  opened with a chant to clear the path for TT40, then the attendees spent some time individually remembering the interesting and enchanting seal that he was.  Kupuna shared another chant celebrating TT40’s long life, and all those

Hawaiian monk seal TT40

Photo credit: Steciuk.

present had the opportunity to return some of his ashes to the ocean. The members of the film crew, from ABC’s “Born to Explore”, were very respectful and grateful to be able to share part of TT40’s story with the world.  This segment was one of many; the show will also highlight research and response efforts to conserve the Hawaiian monk seal.

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