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Archive for May, 2014

Field Report: Spring 2014

If you follow the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program’s Facebook page you probably know about R1KU. She is the junenile female seal that was taken into captivity from Anini Beach on Kauai in February. At that time the seal was extremely thin and fighting an infection from an eye injury. She was transported to Oahu for surgical removal of a damaged, non-reparable eye to alleviate chronic pain and for rehabilitation to fatten her up. Several weeks later, she was released on the remote island of Niihau, where she was originally sighted in January. In May, we received a call from PMRF Navy base reporting a seal missing an eye, wearing a satellite tag and bleach marked, V1. That would be R1KU, who swam back to Kauai from Ni’ihau. We are pleased to report that she is in good body condition and her surgical site healing well! She has since remained on Kauai frequenting remote rocky sites and continues to look healthy.

monk seal

Photo credit: Mary Miyashiro

Pupping season is in full swing with three new pups on Kauai alone.

RK22 gave birth to a healthy male, temporarily known as PK1, on May 7th.

monk seal

Photo credit: Jamie Thomton

RO28 gave birth to a healthy male, temporarily known as PK2, on May 21st.

monk seal

Photo credit: Jamie Thomton

RK30 gave birth to a healthy pup, temporarily known as PK3 on May 29th.

monk seal

Photo credit: David Sutton

All three pups are doing well and their mother’s are proving to be highly protective, as is common with monk seals.

A word of caution: monk seal mothers can be extremely protective of their pups and therefore we recommend NO SWIMMING at the remote beaches where moms/pups are found. Further, males are usually found competing for access to mothers who will become receptive to breeding shortly after the 6 week nursing period. These males may also mistake swimmers for other competing male seals (they are very short-sighted, 30-40 feet), so again, we advise against swimming in these remote areas during pupping season.

We are currently tracking four other pregnant females that may pup on Kauai this year and look forward to sharing more pup photos with you in the future.

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