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Archive for May, 2019

Field Report: April

Monthly Update:

The Kauai team logged 348 seal sightings in April. This included 35 individually identified seals.

April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284
Dec: 153
Nov: 145
Oct: 203
Sep: 199

New:

  • New pup born to RK52. This is her first successful pup. In 2018, she pupped for the first time, however the pup was stillborn. This pup is male and thriving so far. Of note, RK52 was born to RH58 in 2011. The other pup born this year was to RB00, also offspring of RH58.

Updates:

  • Subadult female RH38 was captured and sent to KKO for care.
  • Adult female RB00 pupped at her natal beach; however she had previously pupped on Maui and Lanai, not Kauai. The pup is male and thriving. He weaned after 54 days of nursing and tagged as RL08 in April.
  • Displacements: No seals were displaced from the Poipu keiki pool. However, adult female RK90 began hauling out at Glass Beach and spending the nights. She was in pre-molt, and then molt condition during this time. Glass Beach is an unsafe location at night due to trucks driving on the beach. Therefore, RK90 was displaced (with approval from NOAA by trained staff) off the beach at sunset five times (3 times in April), twice along with adult male RK05. RK90 continues to return to Glass Beach several times per week, but has begun foraging at night again, therefore displacement has not been necessary. Close monitoring of this beach continues.
  • Bleach markings: 1 was applied this month.
  • Molting: 1 seal molted this month (RK90 at Glass Beach).

Research/Support of PIFSC:

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

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In January 2018, a male juvenile monk seal was sighted on Niihau with a hook in his lower right lip. Photos of him happened to match another set of photos submitted by some kindly fishermen of a sighting in September 2017. Both sets of images showed the animal to be in good body condition with the hook not presenting a life-threatening situation. Clearly, the seal was managing to forage successfully. So, the decision was made to await an attempted de-hooking when the seal was next sighted–as long as he was in a safe place and situation to intervene.

Thing is, this wasn’t NG00‘s first hooking. In May 2016, he hauled out on a Kauai beach with a hook stuck in his lip. At the time, NOAA approved a trained team to capture him and remove the hook, and they did. Successfully. Then, 18 months later, he was hooked again. That was the Niihau sighting.

Months went by. NG00 was sighted but not in a safe place for intervention. Then, he was sighted, but he’d recently molted, so it was decided–once again–not to intervene.

You might be wondering about his flipper tag number. NG00 was tagged on Niihau, and his tags are black. As you can tell, he tends to make the swim back and forth from Niihau to Kauai fairly regularly.

Last week, the stars and seals aligned. After romping with with RG58, he hauled out in a safe spot. With NOAA’s approval, a trained team caught him, and safely removed the hook that he’d been sporting since, at least, September 2017.

This would be a good time to request fishers to use barbless hooks. Please.

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PC: J. Honnert

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PC: J. Honnert

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PC: J. Honnert

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PC: J. Honnert

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