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Archive for the ‘R6FQ’ Category

Field Report: Summer 2012

All four of our 2012 pups are successfully weaned, tagged, exploring, and mingling with other seals!

Credit: Langley

In early July, RL10, the oldest of the four, was relocated from her birth site at Aliomanu Road to the more remote sands of Waipake Beach on the northeast shore. Conveniently, her new site was near the birth sites of the other three pups! The relocation was done for RL10’s safety; Aliomanu was a hazardous location for several reasons, the main ones being proximity to the road and high human use. Mahalo nui loa to our veterinarian for flying over from Oahu to assist with this effort; to our Kupuna for her prayers, chants and elbow grease; to our volunteers for helping to execute the relocation; to vacation renters and property managers for granting us access through their properties; and to assorted members of the public for their spontaneous help. It takes a village to move a seal!

RL10’s mom, RK13, continues to be of concern. We are glad to report that she successfully molted at Mahaulepu Beach and has put on quite a few pounds since weaning RL10, but she is still thin. Now that the stressful process of molting is behind her, we’re hoping that she will start to gain more weight.

RL14’s mom, RK22, has been spotted several times on Kauai since weaning him. Her weight looks very good, she is 100% molted, and she was recently attended by adult male RK36 (of hook-swallowing fame, and still sporting his cell and satellite tracking tags) in the Anahola area.

RH58’s female pup was weaned on June 26, after 38 days of nursing; and was flipper tagged L17/L16, making her permanent ID number RL17. RH58 (a.k.a. “Rocky”) has traveled back to Oahu, her usual stomping grounds.

Credit: Langley

RK30’s male pup was weaned on July 10, after 45 days of nursing; and was flipper tagged L24/L25; giving him the permanent ID number RL24. Mom RK30 is in excellent condition and looks like she will begin her molt very soon. She was most recently observed at Salt Pond Beach Park, and was recently attended by Oahu adult male RO20 (a.k.a. “Kermit”.)

All four pups have still been observed in the Lepeuli/Waipake area, but the oldest three (RL10, RL14, and RL17) have occasionally left the area to explore new beaches to the north and south.

Juvenile female RK52 (“Rocky”’s 2011 pup) has spent most of the past year on the north shore between Ke’e and Tunnels, but has returned to her birthplace (Waipake) for her first molt. As of this writing, she is about 30% molted.

Credit: Lee

Juvenile male R6FQ began his molt several months ago, but has not completed it. Usually, monk seals only take about a week to lose their outer layer of fur and skin in their yearly “catastrophic” molt, but it’s not unheard of for a young animal to have a patchy molt like this. We are keeping a close eye on R6FQ (flipper tags 6FQ/6FO) to be sure his uneven molt is not a sign of a health concern.

It’s with sorrow that we report both the appearance and disappearance of a new seal to our island. Yearling male Temp V17 was first seen this summer on the east shore of Kauai, and given the bleach number “V17” by our DLNR specialist on June 15. On July 30, Temp V17 was found dead in the Wailua area. Local fishermen reported the carcass and graciously led us through blessings and prayers for the seal on the beach before we removed the carcass. Necropsy did not reveal a clear cause of death, but no evidence of human interaction was observed.

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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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It’s been a busy beginning to 2011 for the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!!  Here’s the latest news for our island’s seals.

RA00, “Kaikoa”, is a juvenile seal who will be two years old this March.  She is looking too thin for her age, and quite green.  The green color in her fur coat is evidence that she has not yet molted.  Hawaiian monk seals molt once per year, shedding their outer layer of fur and skin.  She can be identified with her rear flipper tags, which are red with white letters/numbers A00 (left flipper) and A01 (right flipper), and by her bleach mark, V22.  If you see Kaikoa, please call the Kauai monk seal hotline at 808-651-7668, so we can assess her health further.

RK12 is our six-time mama seal.  She most recently gave birth around Thanksgiving 2009 at Maha’ulepu beach, and was thought to be pregnant again this year.  However, she has now completed her molt!  This indicates that she is not in fact pregnant.  It’s normal for mama seals to take a year off between pups, and RK12 has not taken a break in six years.  Good for her!

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center monk seal research team was working on Kauai for a week this January.  Here are some examples of the great work they did to help us learn about Kauai’s seals:

  • RO18, an adult male with flipper tags 6FA/6FB, was bleached V25 at Kauai Beach Resort, and was spotted on Oahu a couple of days later!
  • Three-year old female seal RB24, “Ha’upu”, received a cell phone tag and her tracks have already started showing up – she went south down the coast, and was seen a couple of days later in Kapa’a.
  • R6FM is the new permanent ID for an unknown juvenile female found at North Larsen’s beach; the PIFSC team gave her flipper-tags 6FM/6FN.
  • Adult female RK13 (tags 5AA/ 5AB) has a new V21 bleach mark, and adult male RK05 (tags 4DA/4DB) has a new V30 bleach mark.  Juvenile female RW06 was given a new V8 bleach mark.
  • R6FQ is the new permanent ID for the little unknown juvenile male bleached 
”V16″ earlier this month.

Thanks to PIFSC and all of our volunteers for their hard work for Kauai’s seals!!

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