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Archive for the ‘RB00’ Category

RB00_01

A young RB00 shortly after acquiring flipper tags.

The female monk seal with the red flipper tags of B00 and B01 is so elusive that she’s never once been mentioned in the nearly 10 years of reports on this website. Now, having pieced together 10 years of her life, we finally have a story about her, and we’re devoting today’s entire post to her. For such an elusive Hawaiian monk seal, this has turned out to be a lengthy report.

On April 28, 2007, the now famous* RH58, also known as “Rocky,” gave birth to a female on one of Kaua‘i’s North Shore beaches. The pup sported a natural bleach mark at birth across her rump in the shape of a heart. As she’s aged, the heart has become more salt and pepper, but it’s visible after she molts. Because of the heart shape, she was nick-named by some “Pu`uwai.” However, some also refer to her as “Boo Baby,” because of her flipper tags—B00. In the official scientific record, however, she’s RB00.

 

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Once RB00 weaned, she took off and was rarely seen. Her NOAA file is fairly thin. Her 10 years of her sightings reports only run about 10 lines.

·      2007: In October, RB00 was instrumented with a satellite tag as part of a study to track the movements of weaned pups and juveniles in the Main Hawaiian Islands.
·      2009: She was sighted twice, both at the same beach on the southeast side of Kaua‘i.
·      2011: In January, she was hazed off a net debris pile on Kaua‘i to avoid possible entanglement. Then, she started popping up on O‘ahu. For the year, she was sighted a total of 8 times between Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.
·      2012: Sighted 15 times between Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.
·      2013: RB00 kept heading southeast and turned up Moloka‘i, recording only one sighting for the year.
·      2014: RB00 backtracked to Kaua‘i where she was sighted twice.
·      2015: RB00 logged five sightings in this year, including on Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, and Maui.
·      2016: In January, RB00 was observed with a dead newborn pup on a remote part of Maui. This was the first confirmed pup for her. After a partial field necropsy, it appeared the full-term male was a stillbirth. Then, it appears RB00 continued moving southeast, because she logged a record 33 sightings for the remainder of the year, almost all on Hawai‘i Island.
·      2017: The sightings slowed back down to five, all on Hawai‘i Island and Maui.

As you can see from RB00’s history, Hawaiian monk seals can and do travel far and wide. But then this year, on January 6, 2018, RB00 notched another island to her portfolio. She was found on a remote beach on the island of Lāna‘i with a healthy female pup that was estimated to be anywhere from one to three days old. The timing of the birth also meant RB00 had provided us with the first Hawaiian monk seal pup of the year in the Main Hawaiian Islands.

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PC: Pūlama Lānaʻi Natural Resources Department

RB00 nursed her pup for a whopping six-and-a-half to seven weeks before weaning. Pup was given a permanent ID of R00K and outfitted with red flipper tags reading K100 and K101. She was also microchipped and vaccinated for morvillivirus.

It just so happens the the ex-Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator, Dr. Rachel Sprague, is the Wildlife Biologist with Pūlama Lānaʻi Department of Natural Resources  and her team monitored mom and pup throughout. Dr. Sprague also shared these anecdotes about her:

·      R00K is the first monk seal pup ever tagged on Lanai, so she is the first monk seal that wherever she goes, it will be known that she is from this island. She is very cute, fat, energetic, and curious.

·      Unlike some monk seal pups, this one didn’t just follow her mom around, but would go into the water first and head off swimming, or go exploring down the beach and mom would have to follow her (or bellow at the pup and she would go flopping back to mom).  Quite a few times, the pup would flop all over her mom and want to go swimming, so mom would follow and lie with her head underwater while the pup played around in the water (mom would pop her head out of the water to take a breath occasionally, and then put it back underwater).  Staff with kids or nieces/nephews would say “I know how mom feels!  Sometimes you ‘can’t even’ and need to just sit with your head underwater for as long as possible so you don’t have to deal and can get some peace and quiet.”

·      When we would go down to the beach to check on her and mom, she was most often swimming in the water, flippers flopping around above the surface while she messed with some sea cucumber or something else on the bottom.  We saw her multiple times on the beach and in the water spending time biting and playing with pieces of marine debris/marine plastics – she is very curious.

·      She is also very very fat! Her mom did a great job of nursing, so she is on the fatter end of weaned pups. She will use all that fat to live off of as she learns to find food for herself and ranges farther.  When we were trying to tag her, we had to wait for about 4 ½ hours in the blowing sand because she was having a great time swimming and wouldn’t come out of the water where we could tag her.

 

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Once pup weaned, Dr. Sprague conducted outreach at the local Lāna‘i schools, sharing photos and video of mom and pup. With the aid of Hawaiian cultural advisor, the kids selected four nicknames for the pup. These names were then presented at a community event and the entire island commuity voted on a the seal’s nickname.

R00K’s nickname is `Imikai. It translates to English as “ocean seeker.” Seems quite appropriate for a Hawaiian monk seal and, especially, an offspring of the widely traveled RB00.

The Pūlama Lānaʻi Department of Natural Resources kindly provided us with these many photographic images and video of mom and pup.

*RH58 “Rocky” made national headlines last summer when she gave birth to a pup nicknamed “Kaimana” on a beach in Waikiki.

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