Archive for March, 2021

Photo credit: Ke Kai Ola

For the past two years, a very large seal with the flipper tags B00 has made her way across the archipelago to give birth where she herself was born to the well-known RH58, a.k.a. Rocky, in 2007. This is RB00. She was sighted as recently as last week on Hawaii Island. Her predicted due date is two days away–Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Last year, RB00 gave birth on Kauai’s north shore to a monk seal still known as PK1 and who is also bleach-marked V00. No flipper-tags have yet been applied to PK1 due to COVID restrictions; however, she should be tagged soon. She is predictably found at her north shore birth beach and has a preference for hauling out very high on the beach tucked into vegetation, often completely hidden from view.

The year before, in 2019, RB00 gave birth to RL08. Because RB00 tends to pack on the pounds during her pregnancy, she can often nurse for a few days or even weeks longer than other female monk seals. RL08 continues to thrive and is much larger than most two-year-olds, thanks to the head-start his mom gave him from two extra weeks of nursing (54 days total) when he was a pup. RL08 is most commonly seen on the north and east shores of Kauai and was sighted 47 different times in 2020.

In 2018, RB00 gave birth on Lanai. In 2016, she delivered a stillborn pup on Maui. So there’s really no telling where she’ll decide to pup this year–Hawaii Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai. With this long-distance swimmer, all are possibilities.

To read more about RB00, click here.

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Monk Seal Monday #123

A young monk seal was found dead and in moderate decomposition along the Haena coastline in the Makua Beach area on March 15th. The seal appeared to be a newborn pup, alone, the mother unknown. Occasionally, pups are still-born or do not survive the first few days of life for various reasons. There were no obvious indications of what caused the seal’s death.

At that time the young seal was discovered, the north shore was closed off due to the landslide that covered the road on the Hanalei Hill. Therefore, no response was possible. However, photos were taken and the seal was buried nearby.

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Field Report: February 2021

The Kauai team logged 119 seal sightings this month. This included 24 individually identified seals.

  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147
  • April: 117
  • March: 200
  • February: 264


·       Subadult male RK58 was discovered in much thinner body condition with significant weight loss since prior sighting 2 months earlier. He also had remarkable swelling around the head, appeared weak, lethargic, dull, and fairly unresponsive to human activity on the beach. The swelling around the head appeared to be two abscesses with draining tracts likely caused by small punctures visible on each side of the head. The seal was captured and transported to KKO by USCG for rehab. The seal had likely suffered from a dog attack weeks earlier with bite injuries around the head, chest, and flippers. RK58 is recovering well and likely to be returned to Kauai in March or April.

·       Several pregnant seals are being monitored that are likely to pup on Niihau in the next couple months.


·       Adult female RK13 continues to be closely monitored due to logging behavior and possible dog bite injuries. Two doses of antibiotics were administered using the pole syringe in February.

·       Off-leash dogs continue to be a problem. This past month dogs at Shipwrecks Beach and Kukui Ula harbor in Poipu were problematic. Worked with DOCARE to monitor and enforce leash violations.

·       Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, our new methods of monitoring continue, which include:

  • Weekly surveys of key beaches by staff.
  • DAR staff conducting weekly island wide Creel Surveys.
  • PMRF staff continuing to send in routine reports and photos.
  • Requesting that people who call the hotline to report seals assist us by sending several photos and setting-up SRA signs or sticks. 


Bleach marks applied: subadult female, unknown, applied V5 bleach mark.

Molting seals: Monitored an adult male who molted at PMRF this month.

Vaccines: Administered booster morbillivirus vaccine to PK1.

Volunteer program: Remains on hold due to COVID-19.

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A new monk seal appeared Feb. 3 at Kukuiula harbor. The caller who reported her kindly offered to stay with the seal to make dog walkers and swimmers aware she was sleeping on the sand next to the rock wall out of sight. This location with COVID changes is very popular to dog owners to release their dogs off leash and throw balls and sticks into the water for the dogs to retrieve and exercise. Unfortunately many owners are unaware of resting sea turtles and seals on this beach, and the leash laws. After picking up some signs, staff arrived to find a healthy small seal with a few scars over her rump. The seal is most likely a young subadult.  With very quiet conditions a box of Lady Clairol, the bleach mark “V5” was applied to the seal’s side to help track her until it’s possible to flipper-tag her. The bleach mark, all starting with the letter of “V” for Kauai seals, helps biologists track the seals and their health, as it provides easy identification when the public sees seals and calls the hotline to report them. The public reports play a very important role in tracking our individual seals’ health while the volunteer program is on hold because of the COVID pandemic. Since she was bleach-marked, numerous more public reports have been generated of V5 hauling out and resting all along the south shore, including Lawai beach, Poipu beach park, Kukuiula harbor and Lawai kai.  As with most seals, she forages and then rests along the shoreline, sweeping back and forth week to week.  Like V5,  over the years we have seen the appearance of a new young seals, most likely from Ni’ihau, and they often become a Kauai resident.  Many of the females continue to live most of their lives on Kauai, once they adopt the island. Typically they become large with pregnancy, they disappear to  return to Ni’ihau, their natal or birthplace island to pup, and then return to Kauai thin from having nursed a pup.  Likewise, we have Kauai born seals move to Oahu or onto another island to reside. This is how the seals spread their population range among the main Hawaiian islands.

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Just a little over two years ago, a young RK58 was released on the North Shore after six months in rehabilitative care at Ke Kai Ola–the Monk Seal Hospital–on Hawaii Island. RK58 was born to RH58, also known as Rocky, on July 16, 2018. There happened to be two other mothers with young pups on the same beach and after a series of “pup swaps,” RH58 eventually rejected her pup. At 19 days old, he was flown to Ke Kai Ola where he was in care for nearly six months. RK58 acclimated quite well back into the wild, once he was re-released in February 2019. Since then, he’s hardly appeared in these web updates.

Unfortunately, RK58 is back at Ke Kai Ola after a suspected dog attack that left him struggling to survive. 

Compare the photos below. This first one was taken on November 24, 2020.

PC: B. Weidner

The next two were taken on December 3, 2020.

Now, look at these taken February 16, 2021. Notice how much weight RK58 lost, as well as, the abscesses around his face.

A press release from The Marine Mammal Center, the organization that runs Ke Kai Ola, stated, “RK58’s puncture wounds are most likely the result of a dog attack, and thanks to the thorough assessment from The Marine Mammal Center, it is clear that he was struggling to recover from these impacts on his own,” says Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.  “We are so grateful for the partnerships that allowed him to be rapidly rescued, transported and treated and we ask the public to please keep their dogs on leash while at the beach.”

The statement continued, “During his initial critical care period, Center veterinarians noted that RK58 was moderately underweight, lethargic and suffering from head, neck and flipper swelling due to infected puncture wounds. Results from a radiograph exam revealed RK58 suffered a small bone fracture in his left front flipper at a puncture wound site. No other internal injuries were identified. The team also administered antibiotics and fluids to boost hydration. “RK58 arrived at our hospital in pretty rough shape but thankfully has been responding well to initial treatments and we’re hopeful that his condition will continue to improve,” says Dr. Whoriskey.”

As a reminder, dogs are not allowed at County of Kauai beach parks. Elsewhere, according to Kauai County Code Leash Law Section 22, dogs must be under control of their owner by a leash (not more than eight feet long) when off the owner’s property. 

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