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Archive for the ‘R400’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #109: Weaner Update

In the good news department, all three of Kauai’s monk seal pups born this year are female. The more females in the population, the greater the potential for a boost in population numbers–super important with endangered species. Additionally, all three are no longer “pups” but “weaners,” as NOAA refers to Hawaiian monk seal pups after their mothers wean them.

The year’s first-born was PK1, born to RB00. PK1 nursed for 45 days. PK2, born to RH58, nursed for 39 days. And PK3, born to RK28, nursed for 40 days.

Due to COVID-19, none of the weaners have been flipper tagged. That also means none have been measured for girth and length. However, here’s an anecdotal assessment of their size: PK2 is fat. PK3 is fatter. PK1 is still the fattest, and she has actually slimmed down some since she was weaned in April.

Instead of flipper-tagging, the use of “bleach tags” will be used to identify the weaners. PK1 has been bleached V00. PK2 has been bleached V02. In the coming days, it’s hoped to bleach PK3 as V03.

As the oldest, V00 has already started moving around quite a bit these days–between the north and east sides of the island. V02 and V03 are still sticking close to their natal beaches; however, V03 has just started to explore a bit more in the past week. During this time, all three are learning how to feed themselves.

It’s not unusual for recently-weaned seals to approach other seals in the hopes of finding one with the milk-producing gifts that their mothers once provided them. Typically, this results in a scuffle between weaner and the second seal, sand and water flying. However, last week, when PK3 approached PK2, no scuffle ensued. No milk ensued, either. But, for about 30 minutes, PK2 showed extreme patience in allowing PK3 to nudge, push, and nip her in the hopes of a little nourishing milk. Here are some photos from that interaction.

PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton

The past several years, R400 birthed late in the summer along Na Pali coast; however, there have been no reports of her this year. Surprisingly she was sighted on Oahu for the first time ever this past July, and she did not look pregnant. So, maybe she’s taking a year off.

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Field Report: October 2019

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 258 seal sightings this month. This included 36 individually identified seals.

October: 258
September: 203
August: 324
July: 239
June: 179
May: 262
April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284

New:

  • A new juvenile male seal was flipper tagged on the South Shore by the Kauai team. The seal’s ID is R1NI.
  • Very pregnant AF R8HE spent two weeks on a North Shore beach. This seal is usually on Maui and Hawaii Island, and pupped on Maui in 2018. She has moved back to Oahu since. Her predicted pupping date was Nov 9.
  • The annual monk seal count day occurred on Oct 19th. Kauai had the most seals with 20 seals reported before noon. Three more seals hauled out later the day for a total of 23 different seals sighted on Kauai that day. The statewide (from Kauai to BI) total count was 50 seals.

Updates:

  • PK6 born at Milolii in September is male, the mother is R400, the same female that has pupped at Milolii in Sept the past 2 years. The pup weaned on approximately Oct 31, resulting in 41-day nursing period. Tour boats and kayak companies are providing updates.
  • S/F R7AA was seen with a small lump under the left jaw line on 8/31/19, it was possibly a small abscess. The seal was re-sighted on 10/21/19 in good health with no obvious abscesses on the jaw line.
  • RH38, the seal rehabbed at KKO and released in July, continues to thrive on the North Shore.
  • All of the 6 pups born this year have been sighted recently and continue to thrive.
  • Displacements: A/F RK13 was displaced from the road edge at Fuji Beach, Kapaa at 3:00 am after calls from the police that the seal was on the road edge and in danger of being run over.
  • Molting: 3 seals molted this month.
  • Vaccinations: No vaccinations given this month.
  • Bleach marking: Two seals were bleach marked this month, both are new untagged seals.

Research/Support of PIFSC:

  • Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.
  • Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.

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Kauai’s sixth pup of the year is now a weaner. He was born on September 20, 2019, and his mother, R400, weaned him 41 days later on October 31, 2019. Other 2019 pups nursed  longer; however, this youngster is no lightweight. When he was flipper-tagged last week–as RL40–he measured 124 centimeters in length and 113 centimeters in girth. As you can see in these pictures, he looks nice and plump and healthy. The tagging team reported L40 (L40 left flipper; L41 right flipper) was strong and feisty and didn’t even depart the beach after tagging.

Kauai’s 2019 pupping season began on February 4 and appears to have ended on October 31–unless there is a late-season surprise birth. It’s happened before. In 2009, RK12 gave birth to a pup who was later flipper-tagged as RA36 in late November, the day after Thanksgiving.

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PC: M. Olry

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PC: M. Olry

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PC: M. Olry

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PC: M. Olry

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PC: M. Olry

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PC: M. Olry

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Monk Seal Monday #74:

A visit last week to the remote beach where Kauai’s sixth pup of 2019 was born on September 20th revealed two things: PK6 is male, and his mother is, as suspected, R400.

R400 is not flipper-tagged; however, her identification was confirmed from various scars–a line scar on the left side of her face and some small pit scars mid-back. Her most prominent scar is a medium-sized, semi-circular shark bite along her lower back on her right side.

Often, we sight pregnant seals on Kauai who seemingly disappear for four to six weeks, only to reappear looking quite thin. We suspect these seals go to Niihau to pup. However, in this case, R400 does the opposite. She spends most of her time on and around Niihau and comes to Kauai to pup. Therefore, little is known about her. But here’s what we do know:

  • She pupped along Napali Coast on September 11, 2017, and photographs revealed identifying scars. She was logged into NOAA’s ranks as R400. However, R400’s pup was never tagged due to the heavy waves and large swells that roll in for the winter about the time the pup was weaned.
  • On September 15, 2018, tour boat operators reported a female seal with a newborn pup at this same remote Napali beach. Again, due to the pup’s arrival coinciding with the return of the winter season’s swells, the pup was not flipper tagged. This time, no photographs allowed for a confirmed identification of the mother. However, the timing matched what would have been a due date of R400.

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The Kauai team logged 203 seal sightings this month. This included 31 individually identified seals.

September: 203
August: 324
July: 239
June: 179
May: 262
April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284

New:

  • A second pup was born at a remote beach along Na Pali Coast. The ID of the mother is unknown, but likely the same Niihau female that has pupped on that beach the past two Septembers, R400. Tour boats and kayak companies are providing updates.

Updates:

  • Sub-adult female R7AA was seen with small lump under left jaw line on 8/31/19, possibly a small abscess. The seal has not been re-sighted since. The plan is to closely monitor.
  • RH58 (Rocky) successfully weaned her female pup, PK5. The pup was flipper-tagged and vaccinated and now has an ID of RL58.
  • RK30 successfully weaned her female pup, PK6. The pup was flipper-tagged, and the seal’s ID is now RL30.
  • RH38, the seal rehabbed at Ke Kai Ola and released in July, continues to thrive on the north shore.
  • The first three 2019 pups (RL08, RL52, and RL28) continue to be sighted in good condition at various north and east shore beaches.
  • Displacements: No seals were displaced this month.
  • Molting: Four seals were observed molting this month.
  • Vaccinations: PK4 and PK5 were vaccinated during pup tagging and received booster vaccinations three weeks later.
  • Bleach marking: One seal was bleach marked this month.

Research/Support of Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center:

  • Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.
  • Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.

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