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Archive for the ‘RF22’ Category

(P)update #18

Quiet Sunday at the beach.

Two observed swims today for a total of three and a half hours. Three feedings. Plenty of nap time.

Photo credit: G. Langley

Photo credit: G. Langley

Photo credit: G. Langley

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2015 Recap

2015 Total Numbers for Kauai Marine Mammal Response Network

We tallied the efforts of our 100+ member volunteer network over the past year and are excited to share the numbers with all of you. The gradual increase in seal sightings and numbers clearly show that monk seals are doing well in the Main Hawaiian Islands. We want to emphasize that it is the efforts of our volunteers that make this possible!

 Grand sightings total: 3,321 (9.1/day) monk seal sightings on Kauai in 2015 (up from 2,516 in 2014 or 6.9 seals/day)!

  •   Kauai population: 53 unique individual seals sighted in 2015 (47 in 2014)
  •   Births: 4 seal pups born on Kauai. Two pregnant females likely pupped on Ni’ihau (RK14 and RK28 departed pregnant, returned thin)
  •  Mortalities: RF22 – died from propeller strike
  •   Ni’ihau Seals: sighted 14 new seals in 2015 likely from Ni’ihau
  •   Kauai team flipper tagged 5 of these new unknown juveniles
  •   Bleach marking effort: 22 bleach marks were applied

Stranding: 6 monk seal responses.

  •  R6AP – dewormed and examined, SAT tag showed seal moved to Ni’ihau
  •  RN44 – circle hook removed from cheek at Larsens Beach. Full recovery.
  •  RF22 – found dead, cause of death was propeller strike.
  •  RF28 – ingested a circle hook. Transported to Oahu for surgical removal, released at Waipake after successful hook removal.
  •  RF28 – follow-up capture/exam due to flipper lameness. Minor laceration discovered, seal fully recovered from hooking.
  •  N1AA – J hook removed on the beach at PMRF. Full recovery.

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Field Report: Summer 2014

Banner pupping year on Kauai – 5 pups!

In addition to the previous pups reported (PK1, PK2 and PK3) two more pups were born on the north shore of Kauai. RH58, a well known and very successful mother gave birth to PK4 on June 28th. RK28, another proven mother gave birth to PK5 on July 16th.

Pups only spend around 40 days with their mothers, during which they gain massive amounts of weight from nursing. The typical pup is born at 35 pounds and gains between 100-150 pounds in a short 5-6 weeks! The mothers fast during this time and convert blubber into very rich milk (twice the calories of heavy whipping cream).

When the mother’s blubber is depleted they abruptly wean their pups by departing, usually at night, and do not return. The young pups are large, healthy and strong swimmers by this point and quickly learn to forage on their own. They are still very naïve, however, and can easily be taught to seek humans for food and company, so it’s crucial that we monitor these ‘weaners’ and make sure humans do not interfere with this critical developmental stage. Shortly after weaning, the pups are flipper tagged and given new permanent IDs, all of the pups born in 2014 were tagged as the ‘F’ cohort (i.e. RF22, the R identifies Main Hawaiian Island seals)

Meet the 2014 Kauai ‘F’ cohort:

RF22  Photo credit: Langley

RF22 male. Photo credit: Langley

RF28  Photo credit: Langley

RF28 male. Photo credit: Langley

RF30  Photo credit: Thomton

RF30 female. Photo credit: Thomton.

RF58  Photo credit: Langley

RF58 female. Photo credit: Langley.

PK5 Male.  Photo credit: Langley.

PK5 male. Photo credit: Langley

Off-Leash Dogs: Tragically, PK5 was killed by stray dogs when he was only two weeks old. The incident occurred during the night and was therefore not witnessed by our diligent pup-sitters. Tracks, blood, and injuries to four other seals, including PK5’s mom, indicated that the mother seals did their best to protect their pups. PK4 (now tagged RF58) had over 60 bite marks on her body and developed major abscesses around her neck. She immediately received medical attention and disease screening by a NOAA veterinary team, and fortunately healed quickly. Currently she is doing well and learning how to be an independent juvenile seal. Permanent neck scars will help us identify her, but pose no risk to her survival.

This was the first known monk seal death caused by a dog and a warning to all of us that we must keep our dogs on leashes (it is State law on all beaches) and strongly encourage everyone else to do the same.

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