Archive for February, 2023

Remember R616? The untagged juvenile male Hawaiian monk seal that hauled out one day with a gnarly wound to his face? Well, his healing process has been remarkable, as reports from dedicated volunteers and their photos illustrate.

R616 is most likely a Niihau seal, he was first reported as a very small clean juvenile male on 9/16/2021at Nukolii where he was observed off and on for several months. Later, he was observed with a partial cookie cutter shark scar on the right chin area and given the identification of “temp 616.” After a year, he was given a permanent ID number of R616. 

R616 likes to cruise the east side and molted in September 2022. He has become more robust as he grows into a healthy two-year-old, going on three.  

While the cause of the laceration across his muzzle is unknown, it was quite likely a sharp object encountered while exploring the ocean. The wound was open and clean, and the saltwater allowed continued flushing of the wound, keeping it clean. Within three days, there was evidence of healthy granulation tissue filling in the wound and, eventually, closing it. A week later the skin has started to heal over the deeper tissues and fill in the deficit tissues.  Eventually, he will have a line scar that will also identify him until he can be tagged.

Here’s a photographic history of his healing.

R616: Three days after reported wound laceration.
R616: Two weeks post-report of laceration.
R616: Three week post-report of laceration.

Read Full Post »

More turtles on Kauai and across the main Hawaiian Islands are being tagged to track their movements for possible nesting and basking changes and NOAA reseachers are turning to citizen scientists for help.

Earlier this month, NOAA introduced a new way of reporting re-sightings of honu with motos (identifications made with non-toxic paint) that utilizes an online form (found here) for data collection.

The new survey format is supposed to make collecting data easier for citizen scientists and provide a more complete and accurate dataset of re-sightings. For example, within the survey, there is a map where the user drops a pin of their sighting, which then records the GPS coordinates of the sighting. Getting accurate coordinates of sightings provides a clearer picture of foraging grounds, population dispersal, as well as where our rehab honu are spending their time post-rehab. 

 The form includes fields for:

  • Date/time
  • Honu ID
  • Island
  • Area/Location
  • Behavior
  • Photos
  • Comments

On the back end, a map of all sightings is automatically generated along with a spreadsheet of all the sighting information, reducing time manually entering data and making analysis easier. 

The Honu Count began in 2017 as a way to get the community involved in reporting returning Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) honu around the main Hawaiian islands. The citizen science project started with a hotline, then moved to the Respect Wildlife email, and is now evolving to an online survey generated through ArcGIS Survey123. The survey can be used from smartphones, tablets, and computers through any of the major browsers (Google, Firefox, Safari, etc.). More information can be found at this website

The flyer below has a QR code that also links directly to the survey. 

Read Full Post »

Field Report: January 2023

The Kauai team logged 252 seal sightings this month (239 in Dec, 243 in Nov, 277 in Oct, 400 in Sept, 320 in Aug). This included 34 individually identified seals.


·       Juvenile female RM28 reported logging in shallow water along Aliomanu Road South, Anahola bay. Underwater GoPro video revealed major wounds on neck, head, and flippers that were likely caused by a large shark and were life threatening. A Kauai team herded the seal into shallow water and into a transport cage for captive care. Staff administered antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and pain meds, and subcutaneous fluids while holding overnight until USCG transport to KKO was possible. The seal died after 5 days of care due to the severity of the injuries.

·       Flipper tagged a new Niihau juvenile female as R3CP.

·       As many as 8 monk seals have been hauling out/socializing/fighting at Poipu Beach Park most days, and most of the seals are adult males. This is typical spring behavior at Poipu and continues to be a challenge for the volunteer team to manage.

·       Adult male RK58, who was rehabbed at KKO for dog bite injuries in 2021, was harassed and chased off Poipu beach by an off-leash dog. No contact was made and the seal left quickly. Volunteers talked to the owner and explained leash laws.


·       R2XW dehooked previous month has fully recovered.

Read Full Post »

Field Report: December 2022

The Kauai team logged 239 seal sightings this month (243 in Nov, 277 in Oct, 400 in Sept, 320 in Aug, 311 in July). This included 31 individually identified seals.


·       Juvenile female R2XW was found hooked with ulua gear and trailing pigtail swivel/mono leader. Leader was trimmed, however 3 weeks later the hook rotated into mouth and around mandible. The seal was captured at Glass Beach and held overnight at the DLNR baseyard until Gregg Levine and Claudia Cedillo arrived the following morning to assist with sedation and successful hook removal. The seal was released at Glass Beach shortly after dehooking and has been resighted in good health several times since.


·       Juvenile RP32 has completed his molt and recovered body condition. We had been monitoring his thin body condition for several months.

Molting: 5 seals molted this past month.

Bleach Marking: 4 seals were bleach marked.

Read Full Post »

Monk Seal Monday #183: Meet R616


Meet the juvenile, male Hawaiian monk seal known, scientifically, as R616. This is his first appearance on these pages—and it’s for an unusual injury. As these photos illustrate, R616 ran into trouble somewhere. It’s hard to say what happened. His wound doesn’t present as a typical shark, entanglement or, even, propeller wound. Perhaps it was something he encountered underwater. Whatever it was, it was likely pretty sharp. After examination, it was decided to let the saltwater continue to flush the wound and monitor R616’s healing, providing treatment, if necessary. Already, there’s evidence of healing going on. Here’s where volunteers and the public can help: If you come across R616 at the beach, use binoculars to check on his healing and report his location by calling 888-256-9840. If you have a telephoto lens and can take photos without disturbing him, please send those photos to kauaiseals@gmail.com.

Read Full Post »