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Archive for the ‘RJ22’ Category

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

20170725,Fuji,RH92(Miyashiro)-molt

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

20170704,Poipu,UAM(JDT)

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.

20170704,Poipu,UAM(JDT)a

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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(P)update #9

Like we’ve shared before, one of the most crucial times of a monk seal’s life are those weeks after weaning. No longer fed by their mother, the weaner must discover on their own what’s edible and what’s not. Sometimes this involves ingesting some marine organism not typical of a monk seal’s diet, say a sea cucumber. Considered “generalists” by scientists, adult monk seals forage on the ocean floor, using their strong necks to flip over rocks at average depths of 200 feet and deeper, dieting on octopus, eel, flat fish, lobster, and squid.

But not weaners. For the first few months after weaning, they stick closer to shore.

Too, the business of finding food requires monk seals stick their faces in all kinds of nooks and crannies. Weaners seem to excel at this in their curious quest by trial and error to determine their food preferences. Unfortunately, weaners can sometimes run into dangerous situations this way. A few years ago, a young seal hauled out with a plastic ring around his muzzle. That same year, another youngster hauled out with a decaying plastic water bottle around his nose. Some have been found with plastic eel cones affixed to their faces. Last year, one of our volunteers discovered a pup playing with the plastic remains of such a hagfish/eel trap. Now, RJ22, our oldest weaner of the 2017 pupping season ran into a wad of monofilament fishing line left behind at the beach. Luckily, he was able to disentangle himself from the line without intervention.

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Here the monofilament line runs through his mouth and around his lower jar.

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Note, too, the line around his body–above his fore flippers.

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A coiled section of line can also be seen alongside his body here, as well as, some by the mouth.

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More line entangled in and around the face.

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It’s hard to make out, but in addition to RJ22’s flipper, there’s wad of line in his mouth.

Our local Surfrider group of volunteers does an excellent job of cleaning up our Kaua`i beaches, and for this, we are most grateful. You can help, too, by collecting marine debris on your beach outings, as well as, at home, no matter where you live–by making different consumer choices to reduce plastic consumption. For ideas on how to do that, click here.

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