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Archive for the ‘RB00’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #169: Meet RQ60

After a whopping 50 days of nursing, RB00 weaned PK1 on July 15th. A few days later, she was bleach-marked V6. The next day, she was flipper-tagged Q60 (left flipper) and Q61 (right flipper).

This process usually takes about five minutes and includes a brief restraint while plastic flipper tags are applied in the webbing of the rear flippers. Her official ID is RQ60. The R indicates that she is part of the Main Hawaiian Island population and the Q indicates she was born in 2022, and 60 is her unique ID. During the tagging process RQ60’s length and girth were also measured, and a microchip was injected under the skin on her right flank.

Now, some interesting facts:

  • Average nursing days for “Kauai” mothers runs 42 days.
  • RB00’s longest nursing record on Kauai was 54 days in 2019. Pup was a male, RL08.
  • RB00 nursed RQ60 for 50 days.
  • At tagging, RL08‘s axillary girth measurement (around his body below his fore flippers) measured 143 centimeters. His length from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail measured 145 centimeters long.
  • At tagging, RQ60’s axillary girth measured 130 centimeters and her length came in at an astonishing 152 centimeters.

So, RB00 continues to produce some super-sized weaners.

Since tagging, RQ60 continues to hang out at her natal beach, spending more and more time in the water, investigating what the sea offers, including a few sea cucumbers. This is very typical behavior for Hawaiian monk seal weaners, as they figure out what’s good to eat in the sea.

What’s more, RQ60 has been hanging out with other young seals, including her older sister, two-year-old RM36.

On Oahu, RQ60’s grandmother RH58 (“Rocky”) has been making headlines again. She pupped on busy Waikiki beach a few weeks ago and, unfortunately, there have been various interactions with swimmers, including an altercation resulting in injuries to one swimmer. It’s always a good to steer clear of mother monk seals and their pups–give them extra wide berth in the water.

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Field Report: June 2022

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 283 seal sightings this month. This included 27 individually identified seals.

  • June: 283
  • May: 248
  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218

New:

·       Pup PK2 born on a remote west side beach to R400 in the same location as the previous year. Staff assessed and put up signs for a pup enclosure.

·       Seal response at Poipu, hooked J/F RM28. Team captured RM28 at Poipu Beach Park and removed hook from the right side of the neck. 

·       Seal response at Palamas, hooked J/M RP28.  Assessed seal, hook non-life threatening in right corner of the mouth. Removed leader with metal swivel with seat belt cutter mounted on a pole. Will monitor RP28, anticipate hook will come out on its own.

·       Seal with extensive mobbing wounds sighted at numerous sites on the south shore. Wounds appear to be healing slightly, continue to receive dozens of calls from the public daily. Will continue to monitor and assess if she haul outs and possibly administer antibiotics.

Updates:

·       RB00‘s pup PK 1 continues to thrive, the pup watch schedule continues.

·       Monk seal activity in the Poipu area remains high, with several seals hauled out daily on the very busy Poipu Beaches. 

Molting: 2 seals molted this past month. 

Displacements from Poipu Keiki Pool: RF28 adult male – 1 time

Volunteers:

·       Continue to be stretched thin with so many seals requiring intensive management at Poipu. We will continue to recruit additional new volunteers.

·       Volunteer pupwatch schedules are in place for both pupping events.

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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PK1 will make four weeks old this Thursday. In that time, she’s grown and grown. She’s swimming for longer and longer periods of time, and she’s holding her breath for greater amounts of time. On the beach, in addition to her size, what’s evident is she’s starting to molt her natal coat.

All the while, Mom is still looking quite large. The question now is just how long RB00 will hang around before weaning her pup. 

Here’s a photo review of the growth of PK1:

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Field Report: May 2022

The Kauai team logged 248 seal sightings this month. This included 27 individually identified seals.

  • May: 248
  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218
  • May: 209

New:

·       RB00 gave birth to female pup PK1 on May 26. This is the 4th consecutive year of pupping on Kauai for RB00. Pup watch schedule established; no issues so far. The pup is thriving.

Updates:

·       Monk seal activity in the Poipu area remains high, with several seals hauled out daily on the very busy Poipu Beaches. 

·       Numerous displacements from the Poipu Keiki pool again this month

Molting: 1 seal completed a molt this past month. 

Displacements: It was a busy month with 4 additional displacements from the keiki pool. There were many seals in the Poipu area socializing, mounting, and playing together all day long. It was primarily subadult males that were the issue. The following seals were displaced:

·       R371 adult female – 2 times

·       R1KY adult female – 1 time

·       RF28 adult male – 1 time

Volunteers:

·       Volunteers are stretched thin with so many seals requiring intensive management at Poipu. We will continue to recruit additional new volunteers.

·       Volunteer pup watch schedule has been established and includes one 3-hour shift each day.

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Monk Seal Monday #165: Anouncing PK1

In the early morning hours of Thursday, May 26, a robust RB00 gave birth to Kauai’s first pup of the year on a remote North Shore beach.

PC: K. Rogers

Fifteen-year-old RB00 was born on Kauai but lives on Hawaii Island most of the year. For the past four consecutive years, she has returned to her natal island of Kauai to give birth to her own pups. Her previous Kauai pups are all thriving and include RL08, RM36, and RP32.

PK1 (Pup Kauai-1) has been out swimming for 30-45 minute sessions. RB00 is an attentive mother who keeps a close eye on her pup and methodically presents for nursing bouts. Males have been reported to make stop-by visits (RN30 has made several) and RB00 routinely responds with open-mouthed vocalizing.

More than 20 telephoto, close-up, ventral photographs taken from slightly different angles show PK1’s piko (navel) but no penile opening, indicating PK is female!

PC: J. Thomton

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Last week, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) reported the fifth Hawaiian monk seal pup born on Oahu this year. Lesley Macpherson of the DLNR Division of State Parks captured the birth on video.

DLNR also reported new mom RH92 gave birth to her first-born pup, PO4, on or around April 14. RH92 was born to RK22 in May 2016. Shortly after weaning, a fisherman witnessed a dog attack her. Luckily, the puncture wounds weren’t deep; however, she was given antibiotics to stave off any possible infection. Then, she started feeding off scraps at a boat harbor, so she was translocated to a remote beach elsewhere on the island. Except that she returned to the boat harbor within a couple weeks. Luckily, an outreach campaign and regular law enforcement patrols reduced the amount of fishing scraps, and RH92 left the immediate area, foraging more widely. In November 2018, at the young age of two-and-a-half, RH92 made the open-ocean crossing to Oahu where she has been regularly sighted ever since.

On Kauai, there are several females who have pupped on the island in recent years:

  • RB00: A recent regular “pupper” on Kauai, RB00’s due date is predicted to be May 1. She was born on Kauai but spends her days on/off Hawaii Island and typically rolls onto a Kauai beach on the north shore a day or two before giving birth.
  • R400, also a regular pupper on Kauai. She pupped at Polihale last year in mid-June.
  • The prolific RH58 took last year off and did not pup. At this point, she has not been confirmed to be pregnant.
  • RK22 last known pupping event was 2017. She’s rarely sighted, presumably spending her days at Niihau.
  • RK28, another traveler, she has not been sighted recently.
RB00

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Monk Seal Monday #143: Male Aggression

When a monk seal hauls out on the beach with wounds on its back, the most common explanation is male-on-female aggression. That’s why earlier this month when a seal rolled onto the beach with a nasty wound on its back, the individual was suspected to be female. Too, the animal was tagged; however, the only visible characters on the very worn tag were “31.” That led to the conclusion the animal was female RF30 (with flipper tags F30 and F31).

However, on a closer look at the animal’s scars and tag in photographs, it was determined the monk seal was not F31. In fact, she wasn’t even a she. The wounded animal was, in fact, adult male RN30–with flipper tag N31. Subsequent photographs confirmed it.

While male-on-male aggression is rare, especially in the main Hawaiian Islands, it’s not novel. The behavior has been witnessed in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and is suspected to be related to skewed male-to-female sex ratios. The aggressors tend to be subordinate males ganging up on females. (Like we reported here.) But they can also gang up on adult dominant males.

According to this paper, high concentrations of subordinate males in an area of few females can lead to aggregate aggression. Also, “…much of the evidence gathered to date suggests that aggressive incidents may be more likely to result from a ‘numerical’ failure, where a male that is capable of exerting dominance over 1 or 2 competing males is overwhelmed by a larger number of competitors and is unable to prevent their access to a female.”

The paper shares one particular event: “At the onset of an aggressive onshore attack observed in 1985, an attending male defended a female from a succession of 4 male challengers that remained nearby. Eventually, one of the ‘defeated’ males made a second attempt, and as he fought the attending male, another male rushed in. The defending male rushed back towards the female, followed by all remaining males, and was quickly overwhelmed (Johanos & Austin 1988).”

Earlier this summer, a group of males was video’ed mobbing a female off Lehua, suggesting there may be many subordinate males present off Lehua and Niihau. It’s not known whether N30 is a dominant or subordinate male, but it’s clear he was attacked. Perhaps N30 got mixed up in something similar to the anecdote shared above. Earlier this year, he was observed competing with RN44 for RB00 when she was with PK1. He’s also been sighted at PMRF, a popular spot for seals heading to and/or returning from Niihau. In fact, he was sighted (with no wounds) at PMRF on July 30th. He was next sighted on Kauai’s north shore and reported to the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui on September 4th–bearing the mobbing wounds.

These mobbing wounds can look pretty dramatic. But monk seals have an amazing ability to heal and already, N30’s wounds are healing.

Photo credit: Olry and Megonnell

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After nearly eight weeks, RB00 finally weaned her pup. KP1 was born on April 23, 2021 and entered life as a “weaner” between June 15 and June 18, 2021. Mom’s robust body condition at time of birth allowed her to stick around longer than most and ensure KP1 a good start at foraging on his own.

But that’s not the only (p)update. On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, an unexpected pup event occurred on a remote west side beach, Polihale State Beach Park. Mom is an unknown female, temporarily ID’ed as MK2. Pup will be known as KP2 until a later date when it can be flipper-tagged. Mom and pup appear healthy, in good body condition, with pup very active, and nursing.

The location of mom and pup is somewhat challenging–for mom and pup, as well as, volunteers.

For mom and pup, there is no protective off-shore reef, sometimes strong currents, sometimes a hefty shore-break, and deep soft sand that gets extremely hot. This beach is also popular for campers and fishers with dogs off leash and trucks moving up and down the beach.

For volunteers, this location necessitates a 4WD vehicle and lots of sun protection, such as an umbrella and footwear because of the hot sand. The good news is there is cell service at this beach location and pretty epic views of Napali Coast. At this time, the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui is looking for new (and returning) volunteers to help with pup-sitting. Anyone interested should call 808-651-7668.

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Field Report: May 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 209 seal sightings this month. This included 28 individually identified seals.

  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147

New:

  • Flipper tagged RH58’s (Rocky) pup from 2020 as RM58, and gave morbillivirus vaccine.
  • Return of visitors causing increased disturbance to seals across the island. More signs put at racks at Poipu beach park to manage SRA without ropes and volunteers deployed.

Updates:

  • RB00 and new pup KP1 continue to thrive. 
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead on the south shore. Carcass was fresh code 2, collected and frozen on Kauai, then shipped to Oahu for necropsy. Gross necropsy did not reveal much, awaiting histopathology lab results.
  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds.

Morbillivirus Vaccination: RM58 received the initial vaccine 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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It’s gender reveal time: KP1 is a male.

Here’s pup last week at five weeks of age. His mom, RB00, still looks like she’s sporting a fair amount of fat stores, suggesting she might continue nursing for a bit longer. Pup is thriving, benefitting from Mom’s robust size at birthing.

In volunteer news, the state DLNR

State leadership that our DLNR-sponsored volunteer team has green-lighted a monk seal haul out response work with a slightly modified approach:

  • Hotline managers will dispatch volunteers when seal sightings are reported to the hotline – same as pre-COVID times.
  • Volunteers will respond wearing a volunteer shirt and will do a general seal health check, take photos/ID, and set-up signs where appropriate (no ropes to be used anywhere), and then depart. Volunteers will not be scheduled to do shifts or outreach on the beach at this point in time, but rather will follow a spot-check protocol.
  • Masks and distancing: State and County guidelines will be followed. Currently the rules on Kauai and statewide are: masks are not required outdoors. However, when in groups larger than 10 people the State and County recommend wearing masks. Of course, if volunteers prefer to wear a mask, they are encouraged to do so.

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