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Archive for the ‘RB00’ Category

After a lengthy 53 (possibly 55) days, RK30 weaned her pup, and PK3 is now officially RL30. At tagging, she (yes, female) measured 126 centimeters from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail and measured 104 centimeters at her plumpest just below her fore flippers.

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PC. J. Thomton.

This is RK30’s 11th known pup and her longest known nursing period. Conservatively, she nursed for 53 days; however, she may have nursed for as long as 55. The exact date isn’t quite exact, because RK30 pupped on a remote beach and daily reports aren’t always daily. Prior to this year, RK30’s longest known nursing duration was 51 days (RJ36) in 2017 and her shortest known nursing bout was 46 days (RL24) in 2012.

RK30 is something of a poster-seal illustrating the kinds of threats these animals face. Her story of perseverance can be read here.

If you’re keeping count, Kauai’s mamas produced a total of three females and two males this year. In 2019, three regulars birthed and raised pups on Kauai–RK30, RK28, and RH58. After previously pupping on Maui and Lanai, RB00 pupped for the first time on Kauai, her birth island. And after giving birth to a stillborn pup last year, RK52 produced a healthy pup this year.

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Every month, anywhere from 30 to 38 individual Hawaiian monk seals are reported to the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui. But just who are these regulars? Here’s a look at the top ten most reported Hawaiian monk seal sightings on Kauai this year to date.

Keep in mind, many things affect this list. Monk seals often have favorite haul out locations. If a monk seal favors a location that happens to be easily accessible by humans, bingo, that seal will be reported more often to the hotline.

Then, of course, monk seal moms and their pups rack up a high number of reported sightings, because they stick to the same beach for weeks on end. As this list will also reveal, young monk seals–especially sub-adult males–are often sighted and reported, too.

  1. With 83 sightings, adult R7GM tops the list of most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai this year.  A female, it appears R7GM may be pregnant for the first time. If she pups on Kauai, her chances skyrocket for remaining at the top of this list for 2019.
  2. With 81 sightings, R3CX ranks second for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai. R3CX is a five-year-old male commonly seen roughhousing with other young males on Poipu Beach.
  3. With 65 sightings, RG58 ranks third for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai. RG58 is a four-year-old male who also prefers the busy beaches of Poipu. His mother is the renown RH58, also known as Rocky.
  4. With 56 sightings, RB00 ranks fourth for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai. The year’s first report of RB00 came two days before she gave birth. She nursed for 54 days and immediately left Kauai after weaning her pup. Recently, RB00 was sighted on Maui. RB00 also counts Rocky as her mother.
  5. With 53 sightings, RK52, yet another offspring of the prolific Rocky, ranks fifth on our list. She provided us with Kauai’s second pup of the year. She nursed for 36 days.
  6. With 53 sightings, RN44 ranks sixth for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai this year. He is a healthy six-year-old male, frequently sighted on his natal beach on the North Shore of the island. His mother is also Rocky.
  7. With 52 sightings, RL08 is the grandson of Rocky. He was born to RB00 earlier this year and nursed for a whopping 54 days.
  8. With 50 sightings, RK58 ranks eighth for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai this year. Another pup of Rocky’s, RK58 was abandoned by his mother in 2018 and spent several months in rehab at Ke Kai Ola before being released back on Kauai.
  9. With 41 sightings, RK30 ranks ninth for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai this year. RK30 is pushing 20 years of age. She’s also one of the most storied monk seals around, having survived many threats to her life. Read more about RK30 here.
  10. With 40 sightings, RG22 ranks tenth for the most reported monk seal sightings on Kauai this year. RG22 is another four-year-old male who loves to roughhouse with the boys at Poipu.

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No sooner than RB00 weaned her pup and RL08 was tagged than eight-year-old RK52 gave birth to a healthy pup on April 9th. After several days of observation, it’s been reported that PK2 is a boy. That makes two males for 2019.

RK52 is proving to be a solid mother, consistently chasing away other curious seals such as chunky RL08 and several other juvenile seals in the area. She was rather tolerant of them being within 10 feet of the pup for the first week, but her patience seems to be wearing thin over the past week, and she is now consistently shooing away others seals with aggressive posturing and vocalizations. The pup is a strong swimmer and is quickly gaining weight. Both mom and pup are doing well.

You may recall that RK52 gave birth to a stillborn pup last year. As far as we know, this is her second pup.

Both pups of 2019 are descendants of the legendary RH58, called by many as Rocky. RH58 herself appears pregnant again this year. As does another Kauai regular, RO28, so we can likely expect a couple more pups this summer.

Here are a few images of PK2’s first days of life.

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PC: Gary Langley

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PC: Gary Langley

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PC: Gary Langley

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PC: Gary Langley

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PC: Gary Langley

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PC: Gary Langley

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Field Report: March

Monthly Update:
The Kauai team logged 350 seal sightings in March. This included 38 individually identified seals.

March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284
Dec: 153
Nov: 145
Oct: 203
Sep: 199

New:

  • Yearling female RKA6 was de-hooked by the Kauai team and immediately released. The hook was a large circle hook with 5 m of heavy monofilament trailing. The seal has fully recovered.

Updates:

  • Adult female RB00 weaned her pup after 54 days of nursing. He was tagged as RL08 in April.
  • RK58 was reared at Ke Kai Ola from August 4, 2018 until released on Feb 13, 2019 after a 3 day soft-release. The seal has remained in the release area, has shown no signs of interest in humans, and is interacting normally with other seals in the area. He also molted this month and lost his satellite tag. He was only 8 months old when he molted, which is unusual as the first molt is usually between 12-16 months of age.
  • Displacements: No seals were displaced from the keiki pool. However, adult female RK90 began hauling out at and spending the nights at a beach that’s considered unsafe due to trucks driving on the beach. Therefore, RK90 was displaced (with the proper NOAA approvals and staff) off the beach at sunset five times, twice along with adult male RK05. RK90 continues to return to this beach several times per week but has begun foraging at night again, eliminating the need for further displacement. Close monitoring of this beach continues.
  • Bleach markings: 3 were applied this month.
  • Molting: 2 seals molted this month.

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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Just two days shy of eight weeks after giving birth, RB00 finally weaned her pup, PK1.

RB00 nursed for a grand total of 54 days. That’s the longest stretch of nursing days for a Kauai pup going back to and including data on pups since 2012. The previous record was 51 days set in 2017 by RK30, a well-known (and well-storied) mom. Her pup was RJ36. The year prior, in 2016, RK30 nursed her pup (RH38) for a total of 50 days.

The average number of nursing days for Kauai moms since 2012 is 42 days. Last year, RK30 nursed for 49 days while both RK28 and RO28 nursed their pups for 39 days each.

The shortest number of nursing days occurred in 2012 when RK13 weaned RL10 after 32 days. During her pregnancy, RK13 experienced two injuries consistent with shark bites that left her in smaller condition than her usual pregnancy weight.

Here are some of the very last photos of PK1 with RB00 and also a few from his first day on his own. Watch for one photo in particular that illustrates clearly why some people theorize that the moniker “monk” for these seals harken to the kind of hood some religious monks wear as part of their habit.

As always, thanks to Gary Langley for so generously sharing his photographs.

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RB00 continues to nurse PK1, who turns seven weeks old today. What’s more, mom’s still got a supply of fat reserves that could indicate she’ll be around for a few more days, if she chooses.

In the main Hawaiian Islands, female monk seals typically wean their pups five to six weeks after giving birth. Because they generally don’t forage while they’re nursing, moms lose a hefty amount of weight. So much weight that their shoulder, rib, and hip bones will often be visible by the time they wean. We often say it’s starvation that forces a mom to leave her pup. But RB00’s bones are still well hidden under a layer of blubber, seven weeks after giving birth. Of course, it helped that she arrived tipping the scales at who knows what weight–suffice it to say she was a heavyweight. It’ll be interesting to see if RB00 waits to wean until she starts looking emaciated or whether something else drives her to split from her pup.

Meanwhile, PK1 is fat and feisty and starting to toss sea cucumbers out of the water. That means, his innate foraging behavior is kicking in. He still pesters mom for sustenance, though. Watch this slide show for the pair’s latest photos (from volunteer G. Langley). Notice PK1 interacting with a stick in the water.

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Field Report: February Report

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 303 seal sightings this month. This included 30 individually identified seals.

Feb: 303
Jan: 284
Dec: 153
Nov: 145
Oct: 203
Sep: 199

New:

  • Adult female RB00 pupped at a remote beach on the North Shore. This is her natal beach, however she had previously pupped on Maui and Lanai, not Kauai. The pup is male and thriving.
  • Subadult female RH38 is currently molting and very thin. This seal was rehabbed at KKO in 2017 due to a heavy parasite burden and emaciated body condition. Currently we are closely monitoring the seal as her molt continues in hopes that she will gain weight as soon as the molt is complete. However, plans to send her to KKO for rehab are being discussed.

Updates:

  • RK58 was reared at Ke Kai Ola from August 4, 2018 until released on Feb 13, 2019 after a 3 day soft-release. This required building a beach pen to hold him, and for staff and volunteers to camp on site to monitor the captive seal prior to release. The seal has shown no signs of interest in humans, and is interacting normally with other seals in the area.
  • Poipu Keiki Pool: Two displacements of subadult male seals R3CX and RG58. occurred this month. This is the third displacement for each from the Keiki Pool.
  • Bleach markings: none
  • Molting: 1 seal molted this month.

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.

 

Here are some images (thanks G. Langley) taken during the past week of PK1. He continues to grow, marks six weeks of life today, and may become a “weaner” in the next few days.

 

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