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Field Report: Winter 2016

Field Report: Winter 2016

For the first four months of 2016, a total of 1,094 seal sightings were logged via the Hawai‘i Monk Seal hotline on Kaua‘i. This breaks down to:

  • January: 286
  • February: 227
  • March: 289
  • April: 292

March Seal Deaths: Two seals were lost in March. On Kaua`i, RG13 a yearling female, was found dead in the Lihi Canal in Kapa`a. Also, RT12, born on Kauai, a 6-year old male that had been living on O‘ahu was found washed up dead. Carcasses were collected and investigated by law enforcement and biologists, and then thoroughly examined by marine mammal veterinarians . Tissues were sent for further investigation for cause of death, as nothing was found on gross necropsy. Both RG13 and RT12 were seen healthy and behaving normally days before death, and they were in good body condition. Each necropsy indicated acute death and histopathology results provided no indication of disease or injury. Inconclusive results such as these are challenging, however one likely cause that is of great concern is acute death by entrapment underwater causing wet, not dry drowning.

Seal of Behavioral Concern, R1KY: Mid April, a young adult female R1KY, originally from Ni’ihau and primarily sighted at Salt Ponds and Poipu, suddenly started to swim with snorkelers and the many swimmers at Poipu county beach park. Previously she was very social with other seals of varying ages. With no seals around, she began following swimmers in the water and onto shore with an avid and unsafe interest for her and the public. R1YK’s behavior could escalate into “seal play” or mating behavior of biting and holding people down in the water. NOAA and DLNR coordinators, researchers, and managers have been in discussions and have implemented a plan. If you see R1KY (she has a bleach mark on her back “V01” and also a red tag on the left rear flipper 1KY) appear between Sheraton and Brennekes beach, please report her to the hotline (808-651- 7668) . Remember! If a seal is swimming among people DO NOT call people out of the water or bring attention to the seal, as this may cause panic and a possible drowning.

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