Archive for June, 2021

After nearly eight weeks, RB00 finally weaned her pup. KP1 was born on April 23, 2021 and entered life as a “weaner” between June 15 and June 18, 2021. Mom’s robust body condition at time of birth allowed her to stick around longer than most and ensure KP1 a good start at foraging on his own.

But that’s not the only (p)update. On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, an unexpected pup event occurred on a remote west side beach, Polihale State Beach Park. Mom is an unknown female, temporarily ID’ed as MK2. Pup will be known as KP2 until a later date when it can be flipper-tagged. Mom and pup appear healthy, in good body condition, with pup very active, and nursing.

The location of mom and pup is somewhat challenging–for mom and pup, as well as, volunteers.

For mom and pup, there is no protective off-shore reef, sometimes strong currents, sometimes a hefty shore-break, and deep soft sand that gets extremely hot. This beach is also popular for campers and fishers with dogs off leash and trucks moving up and down the beach.

For volunteers, this location necessitates a 4WD vehicle and lots of sun protection, such as an umbrella and footwear because of the hot sand. The good news is there is cell service at this beach location and pretty epic views of Napali Coast. At this time, the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui is looking for new (and returning) volunteers to help with pup-sitting. Anyone interested should call 808-651-7668.

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Sea turtle nesting season has arrived!  Hawaii’s two more common sea turtle species, the threatened Honu or green sea turtle, nests from May through September, and the more rare, endangered Hawksbill “Honu’ea or ‘Ea nests May to December. While both are protected under state and federal laws, being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The Green sea turtle, no longer harvested for its meat and shell have recovered from 67 nesting female turtles to 800 nesting annually, with the majority swimming 800 miles to the remote French Frigate Shoals.  In contrast, the Hawksbill turtle, hunted for is beautiful shell for tortoise shell jewelry, has not increased in numbers, with only 20-25 females nesting each year, primarily nesting on the Ka’u coast of Hawaii, south Maui and east Moloka’i.

Green sea turtles nest every 2-3 years, and a female (age 25-35 years) will lay eggs on average four times, about every two weeks at night.  While the majority (96%) of the nesting occurs in the Northwest Hawaiian islands, some nesting occurs on our main Hawaiian islands.  Last year, nesting activity was observed more frequently on the main Hawaiian islands, possibly as a reflection of less people on the beaches during the pandemic shut downs of 2020 so females could haul out undisturbed, and nest pits and tracks were more visible? Another question researchers are investigating is the destruction and loss of sand and reef to a major nesting site on East island in 2018 by hurricane Walaka.  On Kauai, nest pits were found around the island and monitored for hatching by biologists with the DLNR and NOAA. Females typically dig a four foot wide and deep pit with her hind flippers, with a mound of sand over the egg chamber. Surprisingly, often when a female turtle comes on the beach at night to nest, she often digs 2-3 “false pits” in the sand near beach vegetation alongside the actual nest, that conceals 100 -120 leathery eggs, making it difficult to detect the location of the eggs.  The eggs will hatch in about 60 days. Hatchlings emerge at night to run a gamut of deadly dangers of vegetation entrapment, crabs, birds and sea predators. Few survive to adulthood, with estimates ranging from one in 1,000 to one in 10,000.

Females are disturbed by activity on the beach, street and building lights can interfere not only with nesting, but also distract hatchlings to the light source on the beach to be run over or trapped inland, instead of being attracted to the light reflected off the ocean. Off road vehicles can crush nests and tire tracks trap the hatchlings. Climate change is causing many threats as well, with increasing temperatures altering sex ratios (higher temps select for females) and sea level rise drowning nests or king tide eroding away beaches.

Report any suspected nesting activities to NOAA by calling 1-888-256-9840 or by emailing RespectWildlife@noaa.gov

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Field Report: May 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 209 seal sightings this month. This included 28 individually identified seals.

  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147


  • Flipper tagged RH58’s (Rocky) pup from 2020 as RM58, and gave morbillivirus vaccine.
  • Return of visitors causing increased disturbance to seals across the island. More signs put at racks at Poipu beach park to manage SRA without ropes and volunteers deployed.


  • RB00 and new pup KP1 continue to thrive. 
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead on the south shore. Carcass was fresh code 2, collected and frozen on Kauai, then shipped to Oahu for necropsy. Gross necropsy did not reveal much, awaiting histopathology lab results.
  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds.

Morbillivirus Vaccination: RM58 received the initial vaccine 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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It’s gender reveal time: KP1 is a male.

Here’s pup last week at five weeks of age. His mom, RB00, still looks like she’s sporting a fair amount of fat stores, suggesting she might continue nursing for a bit longer. Pup is thriving, benefitting from Mom’s robust size at birthing.

In volunteer news, the state DLNR

State leadership that our DLNR-sponsored volunteer team has green-lighted a monk seal haul out response work with a slightly modified approach:

  • Hotline managers will dispatch volunteers when seal sightings are reported to the hotline – same as pre-COVID times.
  • Volunteers will respond wearing a volunteer shirt and will do a general seal health check, take photos/ID, and set-up signs where appropriate (no ropes to be used anywhere), and then depart. Volunteers will not be scheduled to do shifts or outreach on the beach at this point in time, but rather will follow a spot-check protocol.
  • Masks and distancing: State and County guidelines will be followed. Currently the rules on Kauai and statewide are: masks are not required outdoors. However, when in groups larger than 10 people the State and County recommend wearing masks. Of course, if volunteers prefer to wear a mask, they are encouraged to do so.

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