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Archive for the ‘K54/K55’ Category

It’s PUP SEASON!  Kauai is now home to four new seals!

On April 23, RK13 surprised us by giving birth near Aliomanu Road in Anahola.  You may remember RK13 from previous reports of her canal-resting behavior last December and January.   She has previously given birth on the island of Ni’ihau (in 2008), but has never pupped on Kauai.  RK13’s pup is a healthy baby girl, who nursed for 31 days and now wears flipper tags L10/L11.  Her permanent ID number is RL10.

Later that week, on April 27, RK22 gave birth on the northeast shore to a healthy boy.  RK22 has been an unsuccessful mother in the past, abandoning at least two pups, but last year she did a great job with her male pup RK54, and this year she was a good mom again with new pup RL14.  He nursed for 34 days, and is sporting flipper tags L14/L15.

Photo credit: Langley

Regular Kauai mom RH58, nicknamed “Rocky” and usually dwelling on Oahu, gave birth to a healthy girl on May 19.  As of this writing, she is still with her pup, after five weeks of nursing.

Less than a week later, regular Miloli’i mom RK30(identified by her extensive scarring around her neck and left side) gave birth to a little boy on Kauai’s northeast shore on May 25.  RK30 is still with her pup, and they have been swimming around together.

It saddens us to report the death of three-year-old male seal RA16 on April 22.  He was nicknamed “Noho” for his tendency to stay close to “home,” first near his birth site and later in Kapaa town, where he was frequently observed at Kaiakea Cove.  RA16’s necropsy revealed another suspicious death, which is still under investigation.  Noho was cremated, and his ashes will be returned to the ocean near his “home.”

Photo credit: Rogers

On May 8, adult male seal RK36 was observed resting in shallow water with fishing gear protruding from his mouth.  On May 9, our Kauai staff and volunteers were joined by a veterinary/science/management team from Oahu to respond.  RK36 was carefully corralled onto the beach and into a transport carrier.  He was driven to Lihue Airport, where a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane carried him to Oahu.  He spent a day resting at Waikiki Aquarium before being transported to Honolulu zoo for removal of the hook, which he had swallowed.  RK36 was in the best possible hands, with two internationally recognized veterinarians on his team.  X-rays showed the veterinary team the exact location and orientation of the hook, and they were able to remove it without surgery.   RK36 had an infection in the area of the hook (the left side of his throat), as well as pneumonia.  He spent 10 more days in recovery at the Waikiki Aquarium, where he eventually perked up and even ate some fish in his pool.  On May 21, he traveled back to Kauai and was released at Salt Ponds Beach Park, wearing two tracking tags (one that transmits a LOT of data to cell phone towers, and one that transmits less data to a satellite even when RK36 is out of “cell phone” range).  His tags showed us that he was travelling around the south and east shores of Kauai, and diving deep enough to show us that his lungs were fully functional.  He has been observed by volunteers and staff at Poipu Beach Park and Palama Beach since his release.  This was a true team effort!  RK36 wouldn’t have made it without the help of the public (who reported the sighting), volunteers (who helped transport him on the Kauai end and helped care for him on the Oahu end), veterinarians, NOAA/DLNR staff, and the fantastic U.S. Coast Guard!

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Photo credit: Mary Miyashiro

RK54 (juvenile male, flipper tag K54) showed continued facial swelling at the beginning of February, and DLNR staff was able to give him antibiotics on 2/11. He was not observed at all for some time after his injection, but has now been observed several times.  The swelling is still apparent, but much reduced. Photos are still critical to further health assessment, so please keep them coming!

RB24 (young adult female, flipper tags B24/B25) was 100% molted as of 2/24.

RK22 (RK54’s mom, flipper tags 6FD/6FH) has recently reappeared on Kauai in the Larsen’s area!  Perhaps she has returned to grace us with another pup in a few months!

Photo credit: Tree Cloud

RK30 (adult female with prominent entanglement scars) was observed “logging” (resting at the surface of the water) all day near the rocks at Ahukini Landing on 2/17.  This is somewhat unusual behavior, but RK30 has since been sighted several times, looking healthy and likely pregnant!

I am sorry to report that juvenile male seal RK56 (born to RK30 at Miloli’I, 5/12/11) was found dead at Maha’uelpu Beach on 3/5, amidst stormy, flash-flood conditions.  RK56 was recovered by DoCARE and NOAA staff, and shipped to Oahu that night for necropsy the next morning.

RK56 spent a lot of time during the past 3 months at Kalapaki Bay, near a local hangout called Pine Trees.  The uncles that picnic, drink and eat there every day took quite a liking to RK56, and became endearingly protective of him.   RK56 is also the little guy who was getting too curious around humans on the north shore in November 2011. We posted flyers about him, and filled out special observation logs to monitor his behavior.  I gave a presentation about him to the Hanalei to Haena Community Association.  Our north and east shore volunteers spent a LOT of hours intensively monitoring this seal.  On behalf of RK56, we thank the whole island of Kauai for the special care you showed to this little seal.  RK56 will be cremated, and his ashes returned to the ocean.

Adult male seals RV18 and RK31 are both freshly molted!

RT12 (juvenile male) was deliberately disturbed recently at Glass Beach by a man who pulled on his rear flippers. Thanks to the volunteer on-scene for the detailed incident report, which has been passed on to law enforcement.

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Field Report: January 2012

A juvenile male seal (2-3 years old, about 200 pounds) was found dead on the northeast shore of Kauai on the evening of January 3, 2012. The seal was untagged, and believed to be a seal that volunteers have observed before. NOAA, DLNR/DAR and DoCARE responded on the scene.  NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement was also engaged immediately, and is investigating this case.  The necropsy was conducted on the morning of January 4, and revealed that this was a suspicious death.  We cannot rule out foul play in this case.  Disclosing any additional information about this case could compromise the investigation.  Anyone having information related to any of the recent monk seal deaths should call 1-855-DLNR-TIP.  See our “News” section for details on the reward for more information.

Hawaiian monk seal RK13

Photo credit: Miyashiro

RK13 (adult female, skin lesions since 2008, blind left eye, recent shark bites and canal-resting behavior) is doing really well; she is healed up and moving normally!

Hawaiian monk seal RK54

Photo credit: Miyashiro.

RK54 (juvenile male, born at Larsen’s in 2011 to RK22) hauled out in the Aliomanu area on 1/11 with a large ulua hook in the left side of his mouth, with a trailing leader and fish head attached.  We had a successful de-hooking, and a great training/learning experience for staff and volunteers.   RK54 was observed on 1/21 with blood on his nose/muzzle.   Possibilities include that (1) he was hooked again on the nose and removed the hook himself, (2) he had an infection or illness causing him to bleed from the nose, or (3) some other injury occurred to the area.  He has since been observed by volunteers and DLNR staff; his appearance and behavior have returned to normal, but we are still monitoring him closely.  What a month for this little guy!

RK56 (juvenile male, too curious about humans last Fall) has been frequently seen over the past few weeks at Kalapaki Bay.  Observers note that he has not sought out any human interaction, and it has been endearing to see how the local folks who regularly picnic in the area have taken to protecting him.

Hawaiian monk seal TT40

Photo credit: Steciuk.

On 1/20, a memorial for male seal TT40 was led by one of Kauai’s kupuna at Maha’ulepu Beach, one of the seal’s regular haul-out locations.  It was a beautiful day.  The event was attended by several volunteers, NOAA staff, and a television film crew.   Kupuna  opened with a chant to clear the path for TT40, then the attendees spent some time individually remembering the interesting and enchanting seal that he was.  Kupuna shared another chant celebrating TT40’s long life, and all those

Hawaiian monk seal TT40

Photo credit: Steciuk.

present had the opportunity to return some of his ashes to the ocean. The members of the film crew, from ABC’s “Born to Explore”, were very respectful and grateful to be able to share part of TT40’s story with the world.  This segment was one of many; the show will also highlight research and response efforts to conserve the Hawaiian monk seal.

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Photo credit: S. Johnson

RK54, the male weaned seal born at North Larsen’s in April of this year, had a plastic ring around his muzzle on October 11, preventing him from eating normally.   Our team was able to remove the ring and check the muzzle for injuries.  Thanks to our volunteers and members of the public who helped with this important response – go team!!

We have had several sightings of T21M, an adult male seal from

Photo credit: D. Lee

Laysan in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  He was relocated to the main Hawaiian islands in 1994, and was recently flipper tagged 7GY/7GZ and fitted with a cell phone tag on Oahu.  He was most recently seen at Lawai Kai in the National Tropical Botanical Gardens!

Photo credit: M. Miyashiro

RB14 (four-year-old female) and RA16 (two-year-old male) had a molting party on the east side again this year!  RA16 has now successfully molted.

RK56 (weaner male, born at Miloli’i in May 2011 to RK30) has been very curious with humans in shallow water for the past week at Ke’e Beach, at the end of the road on the north shore.  He has been observed following snorkelers, and checking out children face-to-face in the very shallow water.  This is dangerous behavior for RK56 and for the people near him.  As a newly weaned seal, he is curious and nonaggressive.  However, if humans reinforce this behavior (with food or play), he will begin to expect and demand the reinforcement, and could become aggressive to those who don’t behave the way he expects them to.  Also, as he grows, he will become larger and stronger; and hormonal changes will cause him to exhibit new behaviors that will certainly be dangerous to his human playmates. We would like to monitor RK56 very closely. If you see him please report it to our Kauai Monk Seal Sighting Hotline at 808-651-7668, keep your distance, and encourage others to do the same.

RK13 (flipper tags 5AA/5AB) is an adult female with a chronic lesion on her rump.  RK13 has had a “lump” since 2008, but it has recently swelled, likely become infected, burst, and begun to slough. We are prepared to send a team to sample and medicate her, but presently the lesion seems to be subsiding on its own.  This, combined with the possibility that she is pregnant, warrant the need to evaluate very carefully before handling her.   For now, we are closely monitoring the progress of the lesion.  If you see her, please report her to the hotline, photograph her full body and the lesion, and email photos the same day to 
kauaiseals@gmail.com.

UPDATE to Field Report: August/September 2011

Juvenile male seal RT12was seen on August 30 with a small hook in the skin of his belly, between his umbilicus and his

Photo credit: M. Bane

penile opening.  At that time, the hook had a red transparent lure and about 3 feet of fine monofilament attached.  He was observed a few days later with only a few inches of line remaining. He has now been seen several times with no hook or line!

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Happy Summer from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!

Hawaiian monk seal and marine debris

Photo credit: Mary Werthwine

On June 13, juvenile male seal RA36 was reported with a decaying water bottle stuck to his face!  Luckily, the bottle was open at both ends, so RA36 could breathe, but he could not eat or use his whiskers.  Our team mobilized immediately to try to remove the bottle, and RA36 ended up dislodging it himself by knocking his head on our rescue equipment and causing the bottle to pop off!

June brought the PIFSC Monk Seal Research team to Kauai!  Their goals were to apply flipper tags to our newly weaned pups, to apply cell phone tags to more seals, and to conduct health assessments on a couple seals of concern.  They succeeded on all fronts!

Hawaiian monk seal on the beach

Photo credit: Lloyd Miyashiro

Our first 2011 Kauai pup’s new permanent ID number is RK54.  His brand-new tags read K54 and K55.  The second pup is female RK52, with tags reading K52 and K53.  RK52 is plumper than RK54, and is seen here exploring her own Seal Protection Zone!  When the weaned pups received their tags, they were also measured and given pit tags (like your pets’ microchips.)

Adult male RK36, with flipper tags 4DI/4DJ, was fitted with a cell phone tag.   We use the cell phone tags to monitor habitat use, dives and foraging behavior!

The PIFSC team got to take a good look at our aging male seal TT40.  While his advanced age seems to be causing his body’s normal processes (like molting) to slow down, our vets and scientists agree that he looks great for his age.

We also assessed the health of subadult female RB24, who has been observed to be losing body condition (i.e., getting thinner).  The cause of her weight loss has not yet been determined, but results of her blood samples, tissue samples and de-worming medication should help us learn more.

At the end of June, we rode out to Miloli’i to flipper-tag our third Kauai pup of the year.  This little male’s permanent number is RK56, and his tags say K56 and K57.  Special thanks to PIFSC and DLNR’s Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation for making this tagging trip possible!

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