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Archive for the ‘RH58’ Category

Sightings:

The Kauai team logged 33 individually identified monk seals on Kauai in May, for a grand total of 332 sightings. This equates to more than 10 monk seals sighted and reported per day.

New:

  • Juvenile female R7AA hauled out onto roads or parking lots three times in the Poipu area this past month. In order to prevent injury from vehicle traffic she was quickly displaced back onto the beach and into the water.
  • We are currently tracking several pregnant females that we expect to pup any day now. That includes the well known RK30 and a more reclusive seal RK22. Two other females, RH58 and RO28, that are typically on Oahu but come back to their birth beaches on Kauai to pup, are both pregnant and approaching their due dates.

Updates:

  • RK13 gave birth to PK1 at Mahaulepu Beach on 4/20/2018. Extensive monitoring was immediately set-up and continues. Pup weaned after 37 days of nursing. Tagged as RK42. Mother, RK13, became unusually thin prior to weaning, but has been sighted several times since weaning. The pup has begun socializing with other seals, specifically with a 3-year old female bleach-marked V2.

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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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As we’ve reported, earlier this year, one of Kauai’s regular-pupping moms (RH58) gave birth on Oahu, where she has spent most of her adult life. She pupped on busy Waikiki Beach. With the thousands of people who flock to Waikiki, it was a challenging time for, among others, NOAA’S marine mammal response team, lifeguards on the beach, DLNR’s DOCARE officials, and the many volunteers of the Hawaii Marine Animal Response team. They had to worry about the safety of mom and pup as well as the numerous swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, paddlers, and throngs of people who came out to see the newest member of the Hawaiian monk seal species. Plus, the seals themselves threw in a few of their own unique challenges. In the early days after pupping, RH58 chased off another adult seal or two in shallow water and on the beach. On two occasions, the pup, who came to be known as Kaimana after the beach on which she was born, slipped between the deteriorating walls of and inside the Natatorium. (Her real-time retrieval by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Science Program was recorded by Civil Beat.) She and her mom also scattered beachgoers when hauling out–with pup mouthing the left-behind beach gear–imagine a child’s slipper–of those who’d hastily departed to give the seals room.

Through it all, neither seal nor human was hurt. Thankfully.

The closest thing on Kauai to that kind of scene just might be Poipu Beach. Of late, we’ve had multiple seals–sometimes four and five–hauling out at the same time on this busy beach–resting, playing, and socializing. Frequently one seal will harass several others, forcing them back into the water for a play session that moves from the water aerobics class, to the snorkel area, and then into the keiki pool. These socializing sessions have occurred several times in the course of a single day.

It can be a stressful time for all involved–with vocalizing and flippers, sand, and water flying.

Volunteers have been trained to use the opportunity of people entering and exiting the water to educate them on the presence of the seals and the appropriate response to any interactions between human and seal that may occur. However, volunteers have been trained not to try and interact with people while they are in the water, so as not to create a panic.

The guidance for the public if approached by a monk seal in the water is to either stay motionless and let the seals swim by or to slowly swim away. But to never try to touch or follow a seal.

Here’s a very short clip that shows how close the encounters can be and in shallow water, at that.

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Field Report: September

V93 is now R7AA!

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PC: B. Becker

A yearling female that showed up on our north shores in late June, made her way south in August. She hauled up several times at Lawai Beach where the NOAA Science Center scientists and veterinarian were able to capture and examine her healing abscess and, with the Kauai team, flipper tag her (7AA/7AB).

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PC: B. Becker

She was given a long acting antibiotic, and fitted with a cell phone transmitter, so we can monitor her movements, foraging and follow her health.

Seals of Concern Updates

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PC: M. Olry

RH38: A female yearling seal that was underweight, was transported August 11 by US Coast Guard C-130 to Kona, where she is being rehabilitated at Ke Kai Ola, the Hawaiian monk seal hospital. Her admission weight was 40 kg and she was treated for tapeworms, which were causing her to do poorly. She is eating well, and now is at 46 kg. She has two companions from the NWHI, one admitted in June and the other in August. The plan is to complete her treatment for tapeworms and to allow her to gain enough weight to insure her success after release in another month or two.

Hooked Seals
hooked-seal-image000001-2.jpgThe adult male seal that was hooked in his back threw off the hook, and continues to be seen at Poipu, he is now freshly molted and known as Temp331.

An unknown seal was reported by a fisherman on the rocks at Kaumakani point last week. The hook is in the right corner of the mouth and is non-life threatening. We do not know of the identification of this seal, whether it has tags or its sex. It may be a young adult or subadult, possibly a Ni’ihau seal, so keep a lookout!

Seal Research

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PC: B. Becker

The NOAA Pacific Islands Science Center research biologists were on Kauai for a week working with the Kauai team to find a subadult or adult male seal to deploy a new streamlined “critter” camera. Searching all coasts, practically all of Kauai’s seals were sighted! Many of the mature males were either starting or finishing their molts, so they were not candidates.

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PC: B. Becker

Finally R1KT (molts in Dec.) was found on a quiet sandy beach. The team was able to capture him and place a camera (in front) and cell phone transmitter to help relocate him to remove the camera three days later to retrieve the footage. The instruments not only gave a visual video record of movements, but also location, depth of dives, time periods and speed! We look forward to learning what R1KT has to teach us!

We thank the many volunteers that searched with us and responded to mul- tiple seal haul outs to find a good candi- date. We also found a new large adult male, fairly clean, without scars, not known to our records. With additional experienced seal handlers, we were able to capture this seal and tag him. He is now called R2XS with tags (2XS/2XR).

Famous Waikiki Pup Translocated
RH58’s weaned pup, is now known by her tags at RJ58 and still remembered as Kaimana, the Ha- waiian name for her natal beach. Because of vari- ous risk assessments and considerations, she was translocated to a north shore beach to put her in a safe location, where she could interact with other seals and safely forage and explore without the human crowds and dangers at Waikiki.

Also the whole story written by a NOAA biologist can be found here.

Additional Marine Animal News
The State Board of Land and Natural Resources Approves New Boating Rules that will prohibit feeding of wildlife or feral animals, and abandoning animals, and creating or contributing to colonies at any property under the boating division’s jurisdiction. These new sections were added in response to complaints about increased feeding of feral animals at boating facilities, which creates potentially unsafe and unsanitary conditions and endangers sea life.

The board approved both amended rules but deferred implementation of a provision that would allow disposal of feral or abandoned animals at state small-boat harbors until Jan. 1, 2019. The delay was to give time for the boating division to work with animal caregivers to come up with a viable plan to relocate colonies of feral and abandoned animals to areas outside of the small-boat harbors.

NOTE: Cats are the only reproductive host of the parasite toxoplasmosis, which has killed monk seals, and continues to threaten human and other marine mammal health. Click here.

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Field Report: Summer

2017 pups are all weaned and tagged!

Monk Seal Pup RJ22-2All weaned pups this year are males (all three last year were females, born to the same moms at same locations!). RK30’s pup born along the Na Pali coast, is a nice big healthy weaner, now known as RJ36 (tagged J36/J37). We are grateful to Captain Tara Leota and Kauai Sea Riders for assistance to monitor and deliver the Kauai team to tag this pup.

RK22 weaned her pup RJ22 (tagged J22/J23) on the northeast coast and was found one morning entangled in in monofilament fishing line. Fortunately, while we were monitoring,  he was able to free himself from the fishing line. This demonstrates why it is so important to check the seals regularly–and to pick up marine debris whenever possible.

The last pup to wean, was RO28’s pup now known as RJ28 (tagged J28/J29). This pup remains on his natal beach while RJ22 has already started exploring more of the coast, moving south.

Seals of Concern Updates

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Photo credit: Miyashiro.

RH92, juvenile female was translocated from Kapaa to PMRF in March. We are pleased to report that even though she returned to the Fuji Beach area she is no longer logging nor feeding on fish scraps in the canal. She continues to forage normally along the east coast and just finished her first molt.

Another yearling female, RH38, is getting ready to molt along the north shore, and we are monitoring her closely as her weight is low.

Unusual hook discovery

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Photo credit: Thomton 

An unknown, untagged, clean adult male seal showed up on the south shore with a large J-hook stuck in his back. A second J-hook was attached with a metal leader and there was 17 feet of very heavy (400 lb) monofilament trailing. Coordinators were able to cut away all of monofilament and the dangling second hook.

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Photo credit: Thomton

The remaining hook embedded in the skin is non-life threatening and will eventually come out on its own, however we will closely monitor this seal and intervene if necessary. Fishermen have informed us that the gear that hooked the seal is used to catch marlin by trolling behind a fast moving boat.

Meanwhile, in Waikiki

One of Kauai’s longtime breeding females, RH58 or “Rocky,” pupped on at Kaimana Beach in Waikiki on Oahu–and instantly became the darling of beachgoers. The mom and pup, a female, provided NOAA staff and volunteers with additional concern when they swam inside the Natatorium by way of an opening in its crumbling seawall. Eventually, once RH58 weaned her fat and healthy pup, the pup was relocated to a more remote location for her safety. As we’ve discussed here many times, young seals are most vulnerable right after weaning. This is a time they spend exploring their natal beach, learning what’s edible and what isn’t. At this age, they are quite curious and social, approaching other seals and, even, people on the beach and in the water as they go about figuring out how to survive as a seal on their own. For her safety, scientists decided to move RH58’s pup to a more remote location.

And at Midway Atoll

A mother monk seal bit a woman–an employee with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–several times while the woman was swimming in the only section of water open for recreational use. The monk seal approached the woman from an adjacent beach where she had pupped. The woman remained on Midway to recover from her injuries. While this incident is extremely unfortunate, it is a good reminder that monk seals are wild animals and that each seal is an individual, each reacting differently to what might seem to be similar situations.

 

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First Kaua`i Pup of 2016

First Kaua‘i Pup of 2016

On April 26, a video showed a seal at Salt Ponds County Beach Park being harassed by a man. The seal was reported as RK30, a 17-year-old female and pregnant at the time. The video went viral, and a 19-year-old man was arrested within a few days by Hawai‘i State DLNR officers and NOAA Law Enforcement. Story here and video here.

The good news is that less than a week later, RK30 gave birth to her seventh pup. Story here.

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We expect more to be born on Kauai, so be on the look out for any small black pups! Here is our schedule of expected births:

  • RK13 Due possibly any day, though her pregnancy is unsure.
  • RK22 Due at the end of May
  • RO28 Due June 10
  • RH58 Due July 28
  • RK14 Pupped early July 2015, usually pups on Ni’ihau
  • R313 Not sure when she pupped 2015, usually pups on Ni’ihau
  • RK28 Likely pupped June 2015 on Ni’ihau

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We are proud to announce that we have another pup. Fifteen-year-old RH58 arrived from Oahu on Sunday, July 12th. In the midst of stormy weather, on Monday morning, she was found concealed in naupaka bushes with a nice healthy pup–that has since been confirmed male. This is RH58’s ninth pup born on Kauai since 2006. While she has spent her adult life foraging the waters around and hauling out on the beaches of Oahu, like many monk seals, RH58 returns to her own natal beach to birth, as well.

Hawaiian monk seal

Photo credit: Rogers

Our third pup born to RO28 has weaned, and his mother returned to Oahu a few days later, accompanied by an untagged male seal, Temp 319. This third weaned pup is tagged G28/G29 and goes by the ID name of RG28. When hauled out, he likes to hang out in rocks. These weaned pups seek rocks and objects to nestle against, possibly missing mom, and are vulnerable to people and loose dogs. They are very naive and curious, as all young are when they are learning about their environment and how to feed and socialize. Unfortunately their “cuteness” gets them in trouble when people approach them, try to pet or swim with them, and–most dangerous for taming a wild animal–try to feed them.

hawaiian monk seal, pup, pk3, RG28

Photo credit: Bloy

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