Archive for the ‘RK12’ Category

Kauai’s sixth pup of the year is now a weaner. He was born on September 20, 2019, and his mother, R400, weaned him 41 days later on October 31, 2019. Other 2019 pups nursed  longer; however, this youngster is no lightweight. When he was flipper-tagged last week–as RL40–he measured 124 centimeters in length and 113 centimeters in girth. As you can see in these pictures, he looks nice and plump and healthy. The tagging team reported L40 (L40 left flipper; L41 right flipper) was strong and feisty and didn’t even depart the beach after tagging.

Kauai’s 2019 pupping season began on February 4 and appears to have ended on October 31–unless there is a late-season surprise birth. It’s happened before. In 2009, RK12 gave birth to a pup who was later flipper-tagged as RA36 in late November, the day after Thanksgiving.


PC: M. Olry


PC: M. Olry


PC: M. Olry


PC: M. Olry


PC: M. Olry


PC: M. Olry

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Field Notes: March 2011

Happy Spring, from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!

Out in the field this month, we’ve been watching out for our newest addition, Temp V15.  She is a juvenile female who was first seen on Kauai at the end of February.  She can be identified by her small size and her bleach mark, “V15”.  She was seen frequently at Mahau’lepu throughout March and observed for remarkable weight loss.  She has not been sighted since March 23, so she is a seal of concern. If you see her, please call our hotline at 651-7668, and take lots of pictures!

We continue to keep a close eye on our oldest male, TT40.  He can be identified by his flipper tags, which read 5AH (right flipper) and 2AQ (left flipper).  He has been slowly molting throughout March.  Instead of exhibiting the typical behavior of hauling out for 5-7 consecutive days to complete his molt, TT40 has been moving regularly between Shipwrecks and Salt Ponds beaches while molting.

RK14. (Photo credit: Sterling.)

New and unusual observations for this month include the resighting of a seal not seen since 2006!  RK14 is an adult female that regularly hauls out on the north shore, particularly at the rocky inaccessible cove of Kilauea Point.  She is unusual because she only has three teats, instead of the regular four (thus she was once called “triple nipple”)!  RK14 also has a bleach mark on her head and a black scar on the left side of her face.

For a funny story, we received a late call from the police department when visitors came home to their vacation rental at Lawai Road and found a seal in their swimming pool!  Fortunately for R6FQ, it was an easy exit over surrounding lava rocks from the salt water pool.  This little juvenile seal who found “a super-sized tide pool” was abruptly scared away by the alarmed visitors!

Another Lawai sighting for many days was RK12, affectionately known as “Maha’ulepu mom,” who often hauls out on the small beach there.  This month, though, she was reported and observed by many floating or resting for long hours in the shallow waters off shore.  She was checked as best as possible for wounds, but nothing was found, and after five days of this behavior, she left on the 29th.  Please keep an eye out for her, as she has not been resighted and we are still concerned about her condition, since this extended “logging” behavior is unusual.

V28. (Photo credit: Langley)

We are sorry to report that we lost our aging male seal Temp V28 this month.  When seals pass away, it makes for some of our most difficult workdays here for  the Hui.  However, these are usually also incredible learning experiences.  Such is the case with Temp V28.  He first appeared on Kauai last summer, exhibiting a nonfunctional eye and other signs of age, but excellent body condition (weight.)  He continued to look healthy throughout winter, but suffered a neck injury that coincided with his yearly molt at the end of February this year.  He rapidly lost weight, and was closely monitored by our Kauai team and our regional veterinary and science teams.  He seemed to improve for a few days, but unfortunately died on March 25.   Veterinarians and scientists immediately came together to conduct a necropsy, which is an exam designed to learn as much as possible from an animal’s death.   We found many signs of age in Temp V28, and we also found some identifying marks!  Using x-rays, we located a pit tag (microchip), which had been implanted in Temp V28’s pelvic region.  We also noted scars on the webbing of his rear flippers that indicate he once had flipper tags!   Scanning the pit tag, we were able to identify this seal as TK49, a 26-year old seal from Laysan, one of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands!   He was last identified in 1994 on the Big Island!   Temp V28 (or TK49) was a very interesting seal; he hauled out in unusual locations around the island, and allowed for education and outreach to a number of local communities who don’t see seals very often!

K30. (Photo credit: Lee)

Keeping the circle of life going are our pregnant female seals.  RK30, R316, and RK22 are all looking quite pregnant – hopefully we have healthy pups in our near future!  Pup events are a great time to learn about seals and get started as a volunteer.  If you are interested in pup-sitting, or volunteering with us in general, see our “Volunteer” tab for more information.

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It’s been a busy beginning to 2011 for the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!!  Here’s the latest news for our island’s seals.

RA00, “Kaikoa”, is a juvenile seal who will be two years old this March.  She is looking too thin for her age, and quite green.  The green color in her fur coat is evidence that she has not yet molted.  Hawaiian monk seals molt once per year, shedding their outer layer of fur and skin.  She can be identified with her rear flipper tags, which are red with white letters/numbers A00 (left flipper) and A01 (right flipper), and by her bleach mark, V22.  If you see Kaikoa, please call the Kauai monk seal hotline at 808-651-7668, so we can assess her health further.

RK12 is our six-time mama seal.  She most recently gave birth around Thanksgiving 2009 at Maha’ulepu beach, and was thought to be pregnant again this year.  However, she has now completed her molt!  This indicates that she is not in fact pregnant.  It’s normal for mama seals to take a year off between pups, and RK12 has not taken a break in six years.  Good for her!

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center monk seal research team was working on Kauai for a week this January.  Here are some examples of the great work they did to help us learn about Kauai’s seals:

  • RO18, an adult male with flipper tags 6FA/6FB, was bleached V25 at Kauai Beach Resort, and was spotted on Oahu a couple of days later!
  • Three-year old female seal RB24, “Ha’upu”, received a cell phone tag and her tracks have already started showing up – she went south down the coast, and was seen a couple of days later in Kapa’a.
  • R6FM is the new permanent ID for an unknown juvenile female found at North Larsen’s beach; the PIFSC team gave her flipper-tags 6FM/6FN.
  • Adult female RK13 (tags 5AA/ 5AB) has a new V21 bleach mark, and adult male RK05 (tags 4DA/4DB) has a new V30 bleach mark.  Juvenile female RW06 was given a new V8 bleach mark.
  • R6FQ is the new permanent ID for the little unknown juvenile male bleached 
”V16″ earlier this month.

Thanks to PIFSC and all of our volunteers for their hard work for Kauai’s seals!!

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Field Notes: Nov/Dec 2010

Happy New Year from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!!  It’s been a busy time of year for us and the seals!

R6FY, a juvenile male first sighted in July 2010, was seen several times in November around PMRF.  He looks thin and close to molting – very green.  When Hawaiian monk seals molt, they lose their entire outer layer of skin and fur.  Scientists have found that the seals also have elevated levels of stress hormones during this once-a-year event.  He was observed several times 
to be exhibiting an interesting behavior – kind of a repeated “swallowing” 
as he fell asleep after stirring.  R6FY does not seem to be in distress, nor does he appear to have any obstructions to eating or breathing.  We are not alarmed about this little guy, but are certainly keeping close eye on him.  If you see him, please photograph him; take a good look at his body for molting, which usually starts around the face and other extremities; and report him to us immediately.

We had several sightings this fall of a large untagged female seal on the north shore, with bleach mark V23.  Bleach marks are applied to the fur of Hawaiian monk seals so that we can identify them from a distance.  The mark is made with the same kind of hair bleach we humans use, and we are specially trained and permitted to apply the bleach without even waking up the seal!  She has had this bleach number for the past year, and since she molted, Mimi re-applied it in November.  V23 did roll onto her fresh bleach, but her mark seems to have stuck, as she was sighted recently as “V23.”

Our youngest seals, RT12 and RA36, have been seen quite frequently at Larsen’s and Aliomanu beaches, respectively.   We have even had a couple of sightings of an untagged male weaned pup on the 
east side in the past couple of months.  We suspect that this is RK30’s latest Miloli’i pup, born on April 17, 2010, but since we were never able to flipper-tag him, we can’t be sure.  Mimi was able to bleach him in December – now he
is V014!  All are looking very healthy.

Still no new pup!  In mid-December, after getting a good look at expectant mom RK12 in person, we predict that she will not likely give birth until January. Nonetheless, we have had the “maternity truck” packed and ready to go for over a week, and we’ve been keeping an eye on RK12’s usual birth sites.

As a holiday gift to everyone from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s Monk Seal Research Program, here is some of the exciting information we are learning from the cell phone tags applied to four seals in 2010!  These tags are helping us understand how the seals in the main Hawaiian islands use their habitat.  Enjoy!

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Field Notes: Sept/Oct 2010

We need your help!  RK22, an adult female seal who has abandoned at least two of her pups in the past (2007 and 2008), has been sighted several times at North Larsen’s beach.  She has flipper tags 6FD/6FH.  It is important for us all to keep a close watch for her, and to photograph her as often as she is sighted.  This will help us determine whether she is pregnant, and help us formulate a plan in the case that she abandons future pup.  In both 2009 and 2010, RK22 disappeared toward the end of her apparent pregnancies, and reappeared 6-8 weeks later, no longer pregnant.  There are several possibilities here: she may be pupping and nursing successfully, she may be losing the pup(s) before or after their birth, she may be abandoning them.  In order for us to learn more about RK22 and ensure the safety of her future pups, we need to keep a close eye on her.   To learn more about RK22’s pup, Ho’ailona (KP2), go here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/kp2.htm

Speaking of mama seals, Kauai’s seven-time mom RK12 is looking quite pregnant.  Our observations indicate that she will likely have her next pup in December 2010!  Her last pup (Mahalo’eha, RA36) was born the day after Thanksgiving Day 2009 at Maha’ulepu.

Photo by Michele Bane, RK12 at Lawai Beach on 10/16/2010

Pohaku (RO28), our young adult female seal who was de-hooked on Good Friday 2010 and frequents Poipu and Larsen’s beaches, has flown the coop!  She was spotted on Oahu at Kaena Point just in time for the Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count!  She has been re-sighted twice, and aside from a new cookiecutter shark bite on her back, she looks great!

The adult male seal with the bleach mark V28 has been sighted on the east shore several times recently.  Our PIFSC research team first sighted him earlier this year, when he turned out to be a less-than-ideal candidate for a cell phone tracking tag.  His body condition looks good, but his behavior and appearance were slightly abnormal.  In particular, his eyes were of concern.  If you see V28, please report him to the Monk Seal Hotline (651-7668), and take photos from a distance of his eyes if possible.

Our Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count on October 16th went very well, with all zones covered by dedicated volunteers!!  We counted 12 seals on Kauai, and the other islands’ counts went as follows:  Oahu – 12, Kaho’olawe – 3, Molokai – 4, Lani – 1, Maui – 1, Big Island – 1, Ni’ihau – 47!  Please keep in mind that this count is not our most scientific approach to population assessment, as a good number of seals were likely in the water during the count.  It is, however, a great way to build community awareness of our critically endangered seals!

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RT12 has his Hawaiian name!  He is Kimo Kai, or “Sleepy Ocean”, named by (and after) vacationing volunteer Jim Maser when RT12 was just a couple of weeks old.   After checking with our Hawaiian cultural practitioners, we have now made it official!

Mahalo-eha (RA36) has been spotted back at his natal beach, Maha’ulepu!

Hawaiian monk seals

Photo credit: Michele Bane

Love is in the air for Kauai’s seals!  We have seen lots of male-female pairs hauled out, entering, and exiting the water together lately.  Some of these included large adult female RK13 with Oahu/Kauai male RO18; scarred female RK30 with our old, dominant male TT40, seven-time mom RK12 with young adult male R4DI, and Oahu male Kermit (RO12) with an unidentified female.   Even little juvenile Kaikoa (RA00) has been seen several times with subadult male RV18, though this pair is too young to mate!

Kermit (RO12), as mentioned above, has returned to Kauai.  But check out what he was doing this summer!!  He had a 2000-mile journey into the pelagic (open-ocean) realm!

Hawaiian monk seal journey

Back on the east shore of Kauai, Kermit lost his cell-phone tag. Thanks to one of our observant and thorough volunteers finding the tag in the sand, we can now learn more about Kermit’s adventure and reuse his tag to track another seal!

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