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Archive for May, 2016

(P)update #8

Not that weather matters much when you’re a marine mammal, but it was a grey and rainy day on Kauai today. We’re grateful our volunteers braved the questionable weather. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this report.

Mom and pup lengthened their swim time today to 1-1/2 hours. After that, they spent the remainder of the day resting on the beach. Three feedings were observed. RV18 (male) cruised by on three occasions but never hauled out or attracted mom/RK22’s attention.

Speaking of RK22, we estimate her age as 15. She’s had quite a journey to motherhood. This year marks her sixth pup in as many years. Before that, however, she abandoned two pups right after their birth. No one’s exactly sure why. Maybe it was her young age. Maybe she lacked the hormones and instincts to mother. Her first pup had to be euthanized; the other survived and now resides at the Waikiki Aquarium. You can read about Hō’ailona’s life story here.

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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(P)update #7

Today, PK2 turns one-week old, and even our volunteers are telling us the pup is plumping up. Let’s run some numbers. Say PK2 weighed 25 pounds at birth. And let’s say mom weans it at five weeks when pup weighs 150 pounds. That means pup is gaining 25 pounds per week. Or 3.5 pounds per day! So, pup has already doubled its weight. Crazy, huh! All the weight gain comes from RK22/mom’s milk alone. That’s some rich milk.

Mom and pup had about an hour long swim early and spent most of the rest of the day napping and feeding. A male, RV18, paid them a little visit mid afternoon.

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(P)update #6

And the debates about sex have begun. Some say female. Some say male. But we’re going to wait a few more days to be extra sure before announcing the sex of our newest Hawaiian monk seal pup on Kauai.

Today was much like yesterday and will be much like tomorrow and the next day–swim, nurse, sleep, swim, nurse, sleep, swim, nurse, sleep.

Hawaiian monk seal pups typically weight 25 to 30 pounds at birth. No reason to suspect PK2 is any different. When its mother weans in about five weeks, PK2 will weigh anywhere from 150 to 175 pounds. So, while it may seem like not much different happened today than yesterday and tomorrow, rest assured that PK2 is packing on the pounds. During these next few weeks, however, mom, RK22 will shrink. That is, she will lose weight. During the nursing period, she will not leave PK2’s side to go foraging. Eventually, in about four weeks, RK22’s hunger will drive her to the sea and PK2 will be weaned.

Until then, we’ll provide updates and photos, even though it may seem like not much new is happening from day to day.

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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(P)update #5

Mom (RK22) and pup (PK2) got wet! The two went for a morning swim that lasted 40 minutes and an afternoon one that lasted 45 minutes. And so it is for a marine mammal, the swimming bouts will occur more frequently and last longer and longer. Three feedings were observed today. As well, a male (RV18) came by for a visit but got chased off by a protective mom.

 

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(P)update #4

Mom (RK22) and pup (PK2) are starting to explore more of the beach. Pup’s still sticking close to mom, so when pup headed for the water and mom did not follow, PK2 didn’t explore beyond the water’s edge. A visiting male, 3CU, paid them a visit and rested in the area for about 40 minutes before moving on.

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Photo credit: V. Bloy

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(P)update #3

After a busy two first days of life, PK2 enjoyed a very quiet day yesterday. Lots of nap time and two feedings were observed. A couple males cruised by, as is usual when a pup is first born, with only minor interaction reported. PK2 does not shy away from the onshore break of waves at the beach, but as far as we know has yet to go for a first swim.

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On day two of PK2’s life, the busy young seal was observed galumphing around its mother and nursing seven times throughout the day. Two males cruised by the pupping site but did not disturb mother (RK22) and pup.

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