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Archive for the ‘R316’ Category

Field Notes: March 2011

Happy Spring, from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!

Out in the field this month, we’ve been watching out for our newest addition, Temp V15.  She is a juvenile female who was first seen on Kauai at the end of February.  She can be identified by her small size and her bleach mark, “V15”.  She was seen frequently at Mahau’lepu throughout March and observed for remarkable weight loss.  She has not been sighted since March 23, so she is a seal of concern. If you see her, please call our hotline at 651-7668, and take lots of pictures!

We continue to keep a close eye on our oldest male, TT40.  He can be identified by his flipper tags, which read 5AH (right flipper) and 2AQ (left flipper).  He has been slowly molting throughout March.  Instead of exhibiting the typical behavior of hauling out for 5-7 consecutive days to complete his molt, TT40 has been moving regularly between Shipwrecks and Salt Ponds beaches while molting.

RK14. (Photo credit: Sterling.)

New and unusual observations for this month include the resighting of a seal not seen since 2006!  RK14 is an adult female that regularly hauls out on the north shore, particularly at the rocky inaccessible cove of Kilauea Point.  She is unusual because she only has three teats, instead of the regular four (thus she was once called “triple nipple”)!  RK14 also has a bleach mark on her head and a black scar on the left side of her face.

For a funny story, we received a late call from the police department when visitors came home to their vacation rental at Lawai Road and found a seal in their swimming pool!  Fortunately for R6FQ, it was an easy exit over surrounding lava rocks from the salt water pool.  This little juvenile seal who found “a super-sized tide pool” was abruptly scared away by the alarmed visitors!

Another Lawai sighting for many days was RK12, affectionately known as “Maha’ulepu mom,” who often hauls out on the small beach there.  This month, though, she was reported and observed by many floating or resting for long hours in the shallow waters off shore.  She was checked as best as possible for wounds, but nothing was found, and after five days of this behavior, she left on the 29th.  Please keep an eye out for her, as she has not been resighted and we are still concerned about her condition, since this extended “logging” behavior is unusual.

V28. (Photo credit: Langley)

We are sorry to report that we lost our aging male seal Temp V28 this month.  When seals pass away, it makes for some of our most difficult workdays here for  the Hui.  However, these are usually also incredible learning experiences.  Such is the case with Temp V28.  He first appeared on Kauai last summer, exhibiting a nonfunctional eye and other signs of age, but excellent body condition (weight.)  He continued to look healthy throughout winter, but suffered a neck injury that coincided with his yearly molt at the end of February this year.  He rapidly lost weight, and was closely monitored by our Kauai team and our regional veterinary and science teams.  He seemed to improve for a few days, but unfortunately died on March 25.   Veterinarians and scientists immediately came together to conduct a necropsy, which is an exam designed to learn as much as possible from an animal’s death.   We found many signs of age in Temp V28, and we also found some identifying marks!  Using x-rays, we located a pit tag (microchip), which had been implanted in Temp V28’s pelvic region.  We also noted scars on the webbing of his rear flippers that indicate he once had flipper tags!   Scanning the pit tag, we were able to identify this seal as TK49, a 26-year old seal from Laysan, one of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands!   He was last identified in 1994 on the Big Island!   Temp V28 (or TK49) was a very interesting seal; he hauled out in unusual locations around the island, and allowed for education and outreach to a number of local communities who don’t see seals very often!

K30. (Photo credit: Lee)

Keeping the circle of life going are our pregnant female seals.  RK30, R316, and RK22 are all looking quite pregnant – hopefully we have healthy pups in our near future!  Pup events are a great time to learn about seals and get started as a volunteer.  If you are interested in pup-sitting, or volunteering with us in general, see our “Volunteer” tab for more information.

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