Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Momona/RA20’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #13: RA20

In June 2009, an extra large R5AY gave birth to a chunky female pup on a shallow stretch of sand along a rocky shoreline on Kauai’s north shore. It was mid-day and almost high tide. As tide ebbed and flowed, the placenta, still attached to the pup, kept getting pulled from between the rocks and offshore. Luckily, the assembly of rocks prevented the hours-old pup from getting dragged into open water. Once the tide turned, the little pup was able to stay on dry sand, and eventually her umbilicus released and her placenta fell off. Some weeks later, once the pup weaned, she was tagged RA20–and hardly ever seen again. Because of her healthy size, she was nicknamed “Momona,” which translates from Hawaiian to something like, “very large.”

One year to the day of her birth, a sighting of RA20 was reported to the Kauai HMS Hui hotline. In 2011, she was reported on the east side and south shore on several occasions. Then, she all but disappeared from Kauai. Over the years, periodic sightings placed her on Maui and Hawaii Island.

In 2017, word traveled down the Hawaiian Island chain that RA20 had given birth on Hawaii Island. Unfortunately, three days later, the pup was found dead and floating in a tide pool. A necropsy was performed and a histopathology report supported drowning as the ultimate cause of death. However, other tests showed some abnormalities that may have led to a weakness in the pup and predisposed it to death from drowning and/or trauma. Even with milk found in the stomach, there was evidence of poor nutrition (declining blubber cells, fatty liver) as well as a possible infection in the liver (necrotic cells) and belly button, all consistent in a poorly thriving pup.

But that brings us to 2018.

On February 8, RA20 gave birth to her second pup, boosting the Hawaii Island monk seal population to five resident seals. Reports are that mom and pup are doing well. DOCARE and state park officials have been super supportive and helping that island’s monk seal response coordinator, a member of Ke Kai Ola/The Marine Mammal Center.

2018.02.17.RA20.PH1.SheilaLatta.2

2018.02.13.RA20.PH1.KevinChatfield.3

And, so, kicks off the 2018 pupping season. We’ve got more news on that front to come. Meanwhile, enjoy this unusual video submitted by one of our many loyal volunteers. It shows visible stomach movement of Kauai’s resident RK13. Could she be pregnant?

Read Full Post »

The first main Hawaiian Island pup for 2015 was born last week to R5AY on Oahu. She’s a Kauai and Oahu seal, but mostly an Oahu seal these days. You may remember R5AY suffered from a severely hooked tongue in 2013 that required surgical removal of a portion of it. Here’s a snapshot of her life:
Background: Tagged in 2002 as an adult on Kauai – so currently at least 18 years old (assuming 5 yrs old when first seen – min age of sexual maturity)

Has mostly spent her time since between Kauai and Oahu

Pupping History

2005 – Kauai  RI37 (female)

2006 – Oahu  (female)

2008 – Oahu  (male)

2009 – Kauai  RA20 (female)

2010 – Oahu  (female)

2011 – Oahu  (female)

2012 – Oahu  (female)

2014 – Oahu (female)

2015 – Oahu. Born February 25th. Sex unknown (so far)

Interesting facts/incidents with her other pups:

– Two females died from entangling in gillnets in the Bellows/Waimanalo area on Oahu.

– RI37 has some large scars on her back – potentially from a propeller. Possibly because of the scars or other related internal injuries, she has had a history of miscarriages/abortions and stillborn pups. As of now, she has not yet had a live birth.

Hooking/Entanglement Summary for R5AY

– First reports from kite surfers near Malaekahana State Recreation Area of a seal floating entangled/dead.

– 14 November 2012 – Report of R5AY with hook in cheek on land. Covered in algae. Severely emaciated.

– 17 November – Captured at Sunset Beach by NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) staff. Brought to Waikiki Aquarium.

– 19 November – Surgery at Honolulu Zoo w/Drs. Gregg Levine, Michelle Barbieri, and Miles Yoshioka (soft tissue surgeon). Removed ~2/3rds of her tongue

– Recovery at Waikiki Aquarium. Progressed from eating dead fish to capturing live fish in pool.

– 29 November – Released near Turtle Bay. Was fitted with satellite transmitter to track movements.

– Continued surveys by volunteers after release to track location and body condition.

– 12 December – Captured by PIFSC staff to give antibiotics, take blood sample, assess body condition. Appeared to be continuing recovery.

– Mid-January 2013 – Satellite tag stopped transmitting or fell off.

– Mid-February – Molted her fur

Other interesting info regarding monk seal reproduction:

– Gestation length of monk seals is unknown. Period between pup birth dates is ~381 days (on average). After 6 weeks of nursing, females are usually seen ~19 days later with scratches & injuries that imply mating. So the assumption is that gestation is somewhere around 10-11 months. But other seals have delayed implantation – so who knows?

Read Full Post »

Hawaiian monk seal RK13

Photo credit: Michele Bane

We have had several reports of seals swimming up into canals on the east shore over the past few weeks.  In particular, RK13 has been observed “logging” 
(resting at the surface of the water) in a canal near the Kapa’a Library.  Both 
freshwater activity (and the health hazards presented therein) and logging 
are behaviors of concern for Hawaiian monk seals.  Please be sure to report 
both immediately, so that our staff can respond and observe the behavior(s) 
in person.

RK13 is of special concern, and we are monitoring her very closely.  She 
has two new injuries (first observed 12/7), consistent with shark bites.  One is near her left 
foreflipper, which she did not appear to be using for the first couple of weeks.  The other is on the underside of her 
right side.   Neither wound is life-threatening, they are not very deep, 
and both are showing quite a bit of healing progress.   She began hauling out on sand again in Kapaa town on 
12/11, but has also continued to visit canals.  She rests peacefully in the Kapaa Library canal, but had a rough day in the canal near the Bull Shed 
restaurant on 12/13.  The canal was a couple of feet deep when she entered 
it early in the day, but by afternoon it was down to a few inches of water. 
RK13 galumphed all the way up the canal behind the Safeway shopping center, 
and struggled to get out of the sludgy mud.  It was awful to watch, but 
handling her would have been more stressful and likely less successful than 
letting her work her way through.  She did figure it out, and worked her way slowly (lots of rest breaks!) back to the ocean.  Since then, she has 
hauled out on sand in Kapaa, Anahola and Moloaa, and also spent a few 
more days in the Kapaa Library Canal.  She is using her left foreflipper normally 
again, starting on Christmas Eve!  Thanks for that holiday gift, RK13!

RK30 (adult female, entanglement scar around neck and large scar on side), 
interestingly enough, was observed in two different Kapaa canals on 
12/29.  Careful 
not to get these two ladies confused!

Hawaiian monk seal RK56

Photo credit: Michele Bane

Another two seals who have flipped the switch on us are RK56 (weaner male, exhibiting curiosity toward humans in November) and RK52 (weaner female, 
born at Larsen’s, April 2011)!  RK56 was most recently seen today at Nukoli’i on the east shore, and RK52 has been observed twice in 
Hanalei.  Careful not to assume identity on these little seals – they’re on the move!  RK52 
has been hauling up very high and looking for trouble; last week she hauled out under a plastic chair, and the next day under a wire fence!  Thankfully, 
she was not entangled.

RB24 (subadult female who lost weight earlier this year) continues to look improved!  Her body condition is back to normal.

R313 (adult female, formerly Temp V23) received a new “V23” bleach mark 
while PIFSC’s Mark Sullivan was on island visiting.  Thanks, Mark!   R313 has been observed from Larsen’s to Ke’e.

At sunset on Christmas Eve, we received a report of a seal entangled in a net in the rocks behind the Beach House restaurant in Lawai.   The entanglement
turned out to be a false alarm; the juvenile tagged seal was just investigating the lay-gillnet in the water.   DoCARE reports that any net is illegal if it is either (1) left unattended, or (2) still set after sunset.  This net was both, so law enforcement is working to identify the net and remove it.

On 12/28, at sunset again, we had another report of a lay-gillnet set about 50 yards down the beach from a hauled-out seal, this time at Ke’e 
Beach.  One of our volunteers was present and spoke with the fishers, but they left the net in place.  Luckily, R313 (adult female bleached V23) did not get entangled. 
We saw her hauled out nearby the next day.

Hawaiian monk seal A20

Photo credit: M. Miyashiro

RA20 (juvenile female born at Larsen’s in 2009, a.k.a. “Momona”, rarely 
seen) has been observed on the south and east shores recently!  She is 
clearly not accustomed to being near humans; she is very sensitive, and was disturbed off of the Courtyard Marriott beach twice yesterday by beachgoers walking past her too closely.

Read Full Post »

T12 wakes up from a nap just long enough to scratch his face.

Our first Kauai pup of the year, male RT12, is weaned, tagged, chubby, healthy, and exploring.  He has found some companionship in adult male RK02; they are often hauled out on the beach together.

T12 shows off his new bling.

Our second pup is also weaned and healthy.  He is also a confirmed male!  This little boy was too busy playing in the water to get tagged at our last attempt, so keep your eyes out for a relatively short and fat untagged pup!  We would love another opportunity to tag him before he grows up and begins to look like so many other young seals around the island!

‘Tis the season for more pups, too!  Females RK13, Temp 365, R5AY, and large unidentified female with a distinctive white “chin” area are all likely pregnant and pupping this summer!

Momona (RA20) and Noho (RA16) both celebrated their first birthdays this month, and both seals were spotted on their respective birthdays!  It’s wonderful to see these kids growing up healthy!!

Mahalo-eha (RA36), our 7-month-old Maha’ulepu pup, has been hanging out along the east shore these days, often seen at Nukoli’i and Fuji Beaches.

One unidentified adult male seal was fitted with a cell-phone tag by the NOAA PIFSC team on June 9, 2010.  The tag records GPS data and depth to help us understand the seals’ movement and foraging behavior. The seal also now has flipper tags 6FA/6FB, and his tag tells us that he headed straight for Oahu after receiving his tag.

RO28 has received her Hawaiian name: she is “Pohaku“, which means “rock.”  Pohaku frequently hauls out in the rocky areas around Poipu.  She is also a “rock” for our monk seal population – a healthy female, and daughter of RK06, another beloved strong female seal.

Read Full Post »