Archive for June, 2017

(P)update #5

We have a third pup for 2017, arriving on Father’s Day to dedicated mother RO28. As she likes to do, RO28 spends most of her adult life on Oahu but chooses to pup on Kauai where she was born. ​She’ll spend the next five weeks or so here, ensuring her pup grows to a plump size. All the while, she’ll stick close to her pup’s side, and in doing so, drop approximately one-third her body weight. Eventually, hunger will drive her to sea to replace her lost energy stores.

Speaking of feeding, within an hour-and-a-quarter after emerging into this air-breathing world, PK3 was off to a healthy start in life by nursing. That’s really not too surprising. What is surprising is two of our dedicated volunteers got photos and video of the birth.


PC: S. Fafard


PC: S. Fafard

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PK1 is a boy! (That makes two for this year.) And he’s discovered his flippers, biting at them, flapping them, generally figuring out what they can do.

201706013 PK1 Discovers Flipper

PC: K. Rogers

RK22 continues to be a very protective mother, however she is now more comfortable being physically separated from her pup at times. On PK1’s 17th day of life, mom was observed logging in the water 50 feet away from PK1, while he was sound asleep on the beach. She was still keeping a close eye on him though. Also, several snorkelers reported being charged by RK22 while they were entering the water to swim. We do not advise swimming at any beach with a mom and pup pair present.


PC: J. Thomton

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Busy Month De-hooking Seals.

Juvenile male seal RG22 was found with a small hook again on May 1. A team was quickly assembled to capture and attempt hook removal. The original small J hook was no longer visible, however a rusty medium sized circle hook was incidentally found wedged inside the left lower jaw, which required sedation for removal. RG22 was transported to the DLNR base yard and held overnight to await arrival of an Oahu veterinary team to assist. He was sedated and the rusty hook was removed. Radiographs revealed that the smaller hook and was no longer present.

RG22 hook(ValBloy)3

PC: V. Bloy.

On May 11, hooked adult female RK90 was found with large male, R336 at Ahukini Cove. Due to her large size, a skilled NOAA seal handler from Oahu joined the Kauai team. The team isolated and captured RK90 with crowding boards, removed the large circle hook and immediately released her to re-join R336.


PC: M. Miyashiro.


Seals of Concern Updates.


Photo credit: L. Nowatzki.

Subadult male, RN02, continues to interact with people in the water, but the level of interaction seems to have decreased somewhat in May. Fortunately we are seeing that he socializes with seals extensively (and the odd turtle!). He has not made contact with people yet. This is a good reminder to remember NOT to engage with monk seals in the water.

RH92, juvenile female, translocated to the West Side, returned to Lihi canal within two weeks, however we are pleased to report that she is foraging in a wider range along the east coast and spending less time in the canal where fish scrap dumping appears to have decreased due to increased outreach and law enforcement patrols.


Seals Heal in Amazing Ways!


Photo credit: M. Miyashiro.

Adult female, RK13 was found on April 26 with a large wound to her face, with tears to the skin around her nose, leaving her left nostril (nare) no longer visible. Close inspection revealed a series of triangular cuts, indicating a shark bite. Seal wounds close up and fill in by a process called tissue granulation. We expected RK13 to have extensive scarring and possibly the loss of a nare. Amazingly one month later, her face was completely healed with only a few small scars and both nares patent and normal! Our NOAA veterinarian was kept informed of the wounds and healing progress to determine if intervention was indicated. Though wildlife wounds often look disturbing, wild animal medicine demonstrates how resilient wild animals are.

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(P)update 2017: #3

20170607 K22 and PK1 Thomton

RK22 and two-week old PK2. (PC: Thomton)

These days, mom (RK22) and pup (PK2) are spending more and more time in the water and hauling out up and down the beach, resting at the waterline during the day and, then, galumphing up higher at night. PK2 is growing; however, still sticks close to mom when sleeping.

Mom continues to be protective and vocalizes at people who get too close (her comfort distance with a pup on the beach seems to be about 50 feet, although we recommend 150 feet minimum). While lounging on the beach, she appears to be sleeping; however every 30 seconds she very slightly opens her eyes to survey the beach and nearby waters for potential threats to her pup. Those threats are primarily sharks and other monk seals, however snorkelers and swimmers are often confused as threats as well.

Please remember to give all monk seals, especially moms with pups, extra space. Stay downwind, out of their line of sight, and camouflaged behind bushes when possible.

20170607 K22 and PK1 3 Thomton

RK22 and two-week old PK2. (PC: Thomton)

20170607 K22 and PK1 2 Thomton

RK22 and two-week old PK2. (PC: Thomton)


20170607 R336 Male Thomton

A cruising male (R336) stops by to investigate mom and pup. (PC: Thomton)



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What’s better than one pup? It’s two! The day after RK22 gave birth, another reliable mother, RK30 also pupped. This one, we know, is a male. Here are a few pictures of the one-week-old pup, known as PK2.


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