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Archive for July, 2012

It’s PUP SEASON!  Kauai is now home to four new seals!

On April 23, RK13 surprised us by giving birth near Aliomanu Road in Anahola.  You may remember RK13 from previous reports of her canal-resting behavior last December and January.   She has previously given birth on the island of Ni’ihau (in 2008), but has never pupped on Kauai.  RK13’s pup is a healthy baby girl, who nursed for 31 days and now wears flipper tags L10/L11.  Her permanent ID number is RL10.

Later that week, on April 27, RK22 gave birth on the northeast shore to a healthy boy.  RK22 has been an unsuccessful mother in the past, abandoning at least two pups, but last year she did a great job with her male pup RK54, and this year she was a good mom again with new pup RL14.  He nursed for 34 days, and is sporting flipper tags L14/L15.

Photo credit: Langley

Regular Kauai mom RH58, nicknamed “Rocky” and usually dwelling on Oahu, gave birth to a healthy girl on May 19.  As of this writing, she is still with her pup, after five weeks of nursing.

Less than a week later, regular Miloli’i mom RK30(identified by her extensive scarring around her neck and left side) gave birth to a little boy on Kauai’s northeast shore on May 25.  RK30 is still with her pup, and they have been swimming around together.

It saddens us to report the death of three-year-old male seal RA16 on April 22.  He was nicknamed “Noho” for his tendency to stay close to “home,” first near his birth site and later in Kapaa town, where he was frequently observed at Kaiakea Cove.  RA16’s necropsy revealed another suspicious death, which is still under investigation.  Noho was cremated, and his ashes will be returned to the ocean near his “home.”

Photo credit: Rogers

On May 8, adult male seal RK36 was observed resting in shallow water with fishing gear protruding from his mouth.  On May 9, our Kauai staff and volunteers were joined by a veterinary/science/management team from Oahu to respond.  RK36 was carefully corralled onto the beach and into a transport carrier.  He was driven to Lihue Airport, where a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane carried him to Oahu.  He spent a day resting at Waikiki Aquarium before being transported to Honolulu zoo for removal of the hook, which he had swallowed.  RK36 was in the best possible hands, with two internationally recognized veterinarians on his team.  X-rays showed the veterinary team the exact location and orientation of the hook, and they were able to remove it without surgery.   RK36 had an infection in the area of the hook (the left side of his throat), as well as pneumonia.  He spent 10 more days in recovery at the Waikiki Aquarium, where he eventually perked up and even ate some fish in his pool.  On May 21, he traveled back to Kauai and was released at Salt Ponds Beach Park, wearing two tracking tags (one that transmits a LOT of data to cell phone towers, and one that transmits less data to a satellite even when RK36 is out of “cell phone” range).  His tags showed us that he was travelling around the south and east shores of Kauai, and diving deep enough to show us that his lungs were fully functional.  He has been observed by volunteers and staff at Poipu Beach Park and Palama Beach since his release.  This was a true team effort!  RK36 wouldn’t have made it without the help of the public (who reported the sighting), volunteers (who helped transport him on the Kauai end and helped care for him on the Oahu end), veterinarians, NOAA/DLNR staff, and the fantastic U.S. Coast Guard!

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