Archive for December, 2018

Happy holidays from RK90, your very pregnant sleepy Hawaiian monk seal.


It’s starting to look a lot like RK90 is pregnant again. She looked much like this last year this time. Then, she disappeared only to re-appear on Kauai in mid-February. It’s presumed she pupped on Niihau–her first known pupping event–which is a good indication that she herself was born there.

RK90 first appeared on Kauai as a juvenile in 2013 with a fish hook in her mouth. It was removed, and at the same time she was flipper-tagged. In May 2017, she turned up again with a large fish hook sticking out of her mouth. It, too, was removed successfully.

In February of this year, RK90 hauled out at the keiki pool in Poipu and was displaced. (Please remember displacements require skilled training and, as always, prior approval from NOAA. Please never attempt this on your own. But please do call the hotline (808-651-7668) when/if you find a monk seal in the Poipu Keiki Pool.)

This past summer, RK90 was repeatedly sighted with R6FQ, a seven year-old-male.

Now, the question is where will RK90 pup this time. She likes to haul out on the south shore and west side, so keep an eye out for her and call the hotline if you see any monk seals with a pup. However, there’s a good chance RK90 will make the 17-mile journey across the Kaulakahi channel to pup on Niihau again.

Here’s a series of recent photos of RK90. This series also happens to provide a good representation of photographs to take when you come across a monk seal on the beach–providing images of all sides (front, rear, belly, back) for NOAA to identify the seal and make a visual health assessment.

Happy holidays!



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Field Report: November

Monthly Update: The Kauai team reported 28 individually identified seals in November for a grand total of 145 seal sightings reported to the hotline.

November: 145
October: 203
September: 199
August: 295
July: 414
June: 315
May: 332
April: 302
March: 299


  • Juvenile female R7AA was disturbed by a leashed barking dog at Salt Pond Beach Park and left the area.
  • A seal was harassed at Mahaulepu by group of men making noises at it to elicit a response. They were also playing football very near the seal. The seal left the beach due to the disturbance; however, hauled out again later after the men were gone. The disturbance was witnessed and reported by a member of the public.


  • Update: RK58 remains at Ke Kai Ola for rehabilitation. RK58 is now free feeding and gaining weight.
  • Sub-adult male NG00 hauled out at Poipu with the circle hook still in his lip. The original hooking occurred in Sept of 2017. The seal is in excellent body condition, but had just finished molting and was therefore not captured for de-hooking.
  • Poipu Keiki Pool: RK13 was displaced this month. That was her fourth displacement in 2 years. (Remember, this only happens with NOAA approval and by trained individuals.)
  • Bleach markings: 4 bleach marks were applied.
  • Molting: 2 seals molted this month.

Research/Support of PIFSC:

  • Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.
  • Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.


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Monk Seal Monday #41: R2XK

Last week, we shared the story of a Niihau-tagged monk seal. Well, this week, we have another possible Niihau monk seal. Estimated to be a three-year-old sub-adult, this seal has been sighted at PMRF on two, possibly three times–using his unique scars to identify him.

There’s always a possibility that this or other untagged monk seals that seem to go back and forth between Kauai and Niihau was actually born on Kauai. For the past two years, for example, we’ve had late-season pups born on the remote Napali Coast. Unfortunately, they don’t wean until September when seas start to kick up for winter and preclude our ability to make safe beach landings to flipper-tag.

Wherever this monk seal was born, he’s now officially known as R2XK; however, his two flipper tags are 2XK and 2XL. (Add some super sharp binoculars to your holiday gift list to help read those tags and distinguish those letters!) Because he was tagged on Kauai, his tags are red with white lettering.

Here are some photographs of the new-to-us Hawaiian monk seal.


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Monk Seal Monday #40: NG00

Often, when an unknown Hawaiian monk seal turns up on Kauai’s shoreline, it’s assumed to have ventured over from Niihau. Very few monk seals from Niihau have been flipper-tagged, so there’s really no telling. But a seal known as NG00 has been flipper-tagged, and his tag is black with light-colored lettering.

In May 2016, juvenile NG00 popped up on a Kauai beach with a fish hook in his mouth. With NOAA approval, a trained team captured him and removed the hook.

In September 2017, the public reported another monk seal with a fish hook in his mouth. The photos resembled NG00.

Then, in early January of this year, NG00 was sighted on a west side Kauai beach, and a team responded to find a fish hook (but no trailing line) stuck in the left corner of his mouth. The bad news was NG00 was hauled out on rocks–not a good location for capture. The good news was that the location of the hooking was not life-threatening. The decision was to wait until he hauled up in a safe place before intervening.

Later in January, NG00 was reported on Niihau.

He reappeared on Kauai in April, still sporting the hook in the left corner of his mouth. Even so, he was in good body condition, indicating the hook was not hampering his ability to feed. Once again, his chosen haul-out location was rocky and not safe for capture.

NG00 wasn’t reported on Kauai again until late November. This time, he was on a sand, hauled out next to another seal (3CX). The circle hook was still lodged in his cheek, and he was still in good body condition. But NG00 had also recently molted and, therefore, it was determined he would not be captured. When monk seals go through their annual molt, they spend more time on the beach resting while the top layer of skin and fur along with it falls out in patches than they spend foraging. Molting eats up energy stores, so the weeks leading up to and after a molt are usually considered hands-off.

However, in a couple weeks, if NG00 happens to haul out in a safe location, NOAA will consider intervening to remove the hook. So, in the coming weeks, if you see a freshly-molted juvenile monk seal with black flipper tags and a fish hook in his lower lip, please call the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui at 808-651-7668.


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