Archive for the ‘KG54’ Category

Some beaches are more popular than others for surfing and snorkeling and, even, seals. Take Kealia Beach Park. It’s not a popular haul out spot for Hawaiian monk seals. But, yesterday, a seal hauled out at this east side beach, more popular for body boarders and dog walkers.

The penultimate word in the previous sentence might lead one to worry that this story is about an unfortunate encounter between a “dog that runs in the sea” and one (or ones) that runs on four legs on the beach. And while there seem to be increasing numbers of monk seal and dog encounters across the island, this story does not end in one such encounter. Thankfully.

(As a reminder: state leash law says all dogs must be on leash and under owner’s control at all times on state beaches; however, no dogs—except service dogs—are allowed at County of Kauai beach parks, and Kealia is a County of Kauai Beach Park.)

But beachgoers were concerned. Lifeguards, too. A volunteer with the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui showed up and set up a “stick fence” to alert beachgoers to the snoozing seal. As is protocol, the volunteer checked the seal for entanglements and took photos. And something was different about this seal. Instead of red tags that are reserved for monk seals tagged in the Main Hawaiian Islands or even the black color used for Niihau seals, the volunteer reported this seal as “thin” and sporting gray tags. And that’s where things got really interesting.

Gray tags are usually reserved for monk seals tagged at Hōlanikū, also known as Kure Atoll. Hōlanikū is notable for its location as the most northern and western of all Hawaiian Islands, some 1,300 miles away in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Hōlanikū also happens to host the most northern and western population of Hawaiian monk seals. 

Sure enough. After examining photos, it was revealed the seal was known as KG54 (with tags G54 and G89) born at Hōlanikū in 2015. 

But yesterday wasn’t this seal first sighting in the Main Hawaiian Islands. A female, she was first spotted on Oahu in late 2021 and throughout 2022. In January 2023, she was reported on Kauai’s west side looking rather large—maybe pregnant. Based on her 2022 molt date, NOAA biologists estimated a pup-date of mid-February.

But there were no more sightings of her until yesterday—and looking thin, suggesting she may have pupped in a remote location like Niihau and now, after weaning her pup, is on the move again. The question is where? Is she headed back to Oahu? Hōlanikū? Or will she stick around Kauai?

These are the kinds of interesting discoveries that make volunteers head out in wind and rain with their binoculars to see what they might find on the beach!

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Monk Seal Monday #146: Long-Distance Swimming.

Red. That’s almost always the color of tags on Hawaiian monk seals that get flipper-tagged in the main Hawaiian Islands. Red contrasts nicely with the shades of gray that are monk seals.

On rare occasions, however, a Hawaiian monk seal has galumphed up the beaches of Kauai sporting black tags with white lettering. The vast majority of monk seals that arrive on Kauai from Niihau are untagged. But a few are tagged, including NG00, N1AA, and NL04.

A couple weeks ago, a report was made of a monk seal sporting gray-colored tags numbered G89. 

Credit: State of Hawaii DLNR/Lesley Macpherson.

A quick search of the monk seal database revealed that the flipper tag of G89 was associated with a weaner, identified in the scientific database as KG54, a female. She was first flipper-tagged as a weaner in 2015 on Hōlanikū, also known as Kure Atoll. Hōlanikū is notable for its location as the most northern and western of all Hawaiian Islands, some 1,300 miles away in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

But there’s an even more interesting story about KG54. It’s this: She was last sighted at Kure Atoll on August 14, 2021 and first sighted on Oahu on September 22, 2021. Here’s the math: She swam an average of 34.5 miles per day in 5 weeks or less.

KG54 is not the only monk seal who has journeyed from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to the main Hawaiian Islands. More of those stories can be found here

This is yet another example of the importance of reporting any and all seals to the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui by calling and/or texting 808-651-7668. The next island KG54 visits might just be Kauai.

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