Archive for the ‘RK22’ Category

(P)update #6

Over the holiday weekend, at 41 days of age, PK1 weaned! That is, his mother headed back to sea to replenish her lost energy stores. As you can see from this photo taken at 36 days of age, PK1 had almost surpassed his mother in girth–but not length. He’s got some growing to do for that.

RK22 and PK1 at 36 days oldFor the entirety of the 41 days since PK1’s birth, he has nursed, gaining weight and growing stronger. For that same nearly six weeks of time, his mother, RK22, has not fed. This is perfectly normal in monk seal’s life history.

RK22 has given her pup plenty of fat stores for him to spend the next few weeks and months figuring out where food really comes from–the sea. As you can see from this photo, PK1 is adjusting to life as a “weaner” with aplomb.

Weaner copy

Read Full Post »

PK1 is a boy! (That makes two for this year.) And he’s discovered his flippers, biting at them, flapping them, generally figuring out what they can do.

201706013 PK1 Discovers Flipper

PC: K. Rogers

RK22 continues to be a very protective mother, however she is now more comfortable being physically separated from her pup at times. On PK1’s 17th day of life, mom was observed logging in the water 50 feet away from PK1, while he was sound asleep on the beach. She was still keeping a close eye on him though. Also, several snorkelers reported being charged by RK22 while they were entering the water to swim. We do not advise swimming at any beach with a mom and pup pair present.


PC: J. Thomton

Read Full Post »


RK22 and PK1 (Day 1). Photo credit: Honnert

It’s a pup!

Kauai’s first pup of the year was born one week ago today to RK22, who surprised us by pupping earlier than we anticipated. What’s more, she pupped on the same day as last year. Her pup goes by “PK1” until it will be banded after mom weans it in a few weeks.

PK1 has spent the last week learning how to nurse and swim–but sticking close to mom. Those two activities along with sleeping make up the little pup’s days.

PK1 Four Days Old

RK22 and PK1 (Day 4).

Read Full Post »

Field Report: June

Updates for our Kauai seals and pups.

RK30 weaned her pup, PK1. This pup most likely nursed 49 to 50 days, making this a very big pup. On Monday, June 27th, she was tagged and vaccinated and is now, officially, RH38, (tags H38/ H39).

Milolii pup (ScubaTomPhotography)2


RK22 weaned her pup, PK2, on Sunday, July 2, after 41 days of nursing.


PK2 (Photo credit: G. Langley)

RO28 arrived from Oahu and pupped, PK3 on June 15. Both are doing well.

RO28 and PK3-3-2

PK3’s first recorded nursing bout with RO28.

Vaccinating seals on Kauai.

The Kauai coordinators are in the process of vaccinating Kauai seals against Morbillivirus, a disease that causes measles in humans and distemper in dogs. To protect our rare Hawaiian monk seals, the first ever vaccination of wild seals has been initiated, as epidemics of this deadly virus have devastated other seal species populations around the world. So far, 13 Kauai seals have received their initial vaccination and some their second booster shot. We are now earnestly looking to booster several male seals, and volunteers can assist us by looking out for RF28 ( red tags, and transmitter on his back, on the north and east sides of Kauai), and N1AA (black tags on the south and west sides of the island). Also, RN30, R8HY subadult males found primarily on the east side often Ahukini cove.
Here is a video of how seals are vaccinated. We will put out a list as time goes on, to identify which seals we are looking for to booster in the 3-5 week window and would truly appreciate assistance in looking for them.

RF28 and RF30 released and doing well.

On May 27, RF28, a juvenile male seal, was found with an ingested hook that was successfully removed on Oahu by a veterinary team. He was soon released back on Kauai with a transmitter on June 2.


RF28 (Photo credit: M. Miyashiro)

RF28 locations

Dive data RF28

A week later, we were surprised to find another internally hooked seal, RF30, a juvenile female! She was located at the Poipu county beach park keiki pool where she was logging and acting strangely. A team was assembled for a water capture using fence panels and crowding boards. This challenging capture was successful due to our many fine volunteers that rallied on a very short notice. Without volunteers to find and assist with capturing these injured seals, none of these successes would be possible! We supremely need and appreciate all our volunteers! RF30 was also transported to Oahu by a US Coast Guard C-130. She was found to have some swelling in the throat where the hook was lodged and at the base of the tongue. It was successfully removed using an endoscope and specially designed tools. Four days later RF30 was flown back to Kauai and released on the east side of the island where she normally resides. Both seals are fitted with satellite tags that are solar powered.

RF30 release (MaryFrances)2

RF30 (Photo credit: M. Miyashiro)

RF30 locations

Dive data RF30

Tag (LloydMiyashiro)

Photo credit: L. Miyashiro

Other marine species:
News from NOAA Fisheries Sea turtle program. If you see a honu or ‘ea on the beach or in the water, please remember:

  • View sea turtles from a distance of 10 feet (3 meters). In Hawai‘i, we view turtles respect- fully. Give turtles space and don’t feed, chase, or touch them.
    Hawaiian honu bask on the beach. This is normal behavior. Don’t try to
    push them back into the water.
  • “It’s OK to help!” Fishermen, check your gear often, use barbless circle hooks and adhere to state gillnet rules. If safe for both you and the turtle, release accidentally caught turtles by fol- lowing these steps:
  1. REEL-IN the turtle carefully
  2. HOLD by its shell or flippers
  3. CUT LINE as close to the hook as possible, and
  4. RELEASE with no (or as little) gear or line attached.
  • “No white light at night.” Use wildlife friendly lighting near the coast (yellow/amber and shielded lights). Don’t use flash photography, and keep lights and beach fires to a minimum from May to December, when turtles are nesting hatchlings are emerging.
  • Avoid beach driving. Off-road vehicles crush nests, create tire ruts that trap hatchlings, and degrade habitats. Driving on the beach is also illegal in most areas.
    Prevent debris and rubbish from entering the ocean. Participate in beach and reef cleanup activities.
  • Report all hawksbill sea turtle sightings, any nesting activity (turtle tracks or nest digging), and injured or dead turtles to NOAA’s Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline on Kaua‘i: (808) 274-3344.
  • Report illegal or suspicious activity that may result in turtle injury or death by calling the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at
    (808) 587-0077 or 643-DLNR.



Read Full Post »

(P)update #34

Here are the trials of an extremely plump Hawaiian monk seal pup: When you start rolling down the beach and momentum takes over, you cannot stop. That’s what’s happening to PK2 these days.


Photo credit: G. Langley

Some fairly recent research* that observed suckling pups in the Main Hawaiian Islands reported pups spent on average a total of 48 minutes nursing per day. Time of day did not seem to play a role. The amount of time varied by week with the greatest amount of nursing taking place in week five or about one week prior to weaning. (That’s right about now for PK2.) In almost every case, it was the pup that initiated the nursing bout, but mother, pup, another seal, and/or waves terminated it. Beach areas were utilized most often in the morning, whereas intertidal zones were more popular mid-day. In the study, moms nursed anywhere from 46 to 57 days before weaning.


Photo credit: G. Langley


*Netze, M. 2011. Maternal Strategies of Hawaiian Monk Seals (Monachus Schauinslandi) Inhabiting the Main Hawaiian Islands.


Read Full Post »

(P)update #33

RK22 and PK3 had one long swim of about three hours and four feedings today.

Once mom weans pup, she’ll head out to sea to fill her empty belly with lobster, octopus, flat fish, and eels. Monk seals are known as benthic feeders, because they typically forage along the ocean floor in a series of yo-yo dives, often using the muscles of their thick heads to flip over rocks to find their prey. While the deepest known dive of a Hawaiian monk seal exceeds 1,500 feet, they generally make repeated dives to two and three hundred feet for hours at a time in search of food.

While each foraging dive lasts an average of six minutes, adults are able to hold their breath up to 20 minutes. In order to maximize their time underwater, Hawaiian monk seal biology allows them to slow their heart rate down to single digits per minute. A biological phenomenon called brachycardia.


Photo credit: G. Langley


Photo credit: G. Langley

Here’s growing PK3 and mom/RO28.


Photo credit: G. Langley

Read Full Post »

(P)update #32

Today marks five weeks since PK2 was born, and while it looks like RK22/mom has enough fat reserves to keep making milk for a few more days, maybe even a week, but you never know when hunger will force her to wean her pup. At this point, whenever RK22 does head out to sea to fill her empty stomach, she’s done an excellent job fattening up her pup. When that happens, PK2 will have to figure out how to find food on her own. One thing that will help are her vibrissae. That is, her whiskers.

Hawaiian monk seals use their vibrissae to locate prey in the sand or track their food at night or in sub-photo depths. Their sensitive whiskers detect the ripples its prey makes as it moves through the water. How cool is that?

Here’s a closeup of PK2’s vibrissae. You can also see how her black lanugo coat is molting, being replaced by a silvery muzzle.


Photo credit: G. Langley

As PK2 matures, her vibrissae will one day look like her mom’s, RK22.


Photo credit: G. Langley


One of the perks of Hawaiian monk seal volunteers is that you get to spend your days at the beach. Some days, treasures wash in from the sea. Like this glass ball, once popular with Japanese fishermen as floats in their nets. Nowadays, plastic has replaced glass, but every now and then a glass ball will appear. Like today. Too bad it was a tad too close to PK2 for our volunteer to sneak in and grab. But if you’re patient, like our volunteer, mom and pup will eventually wake up and go for a swim.


Photo credit: G. Langley


Photo credit: G. Langley

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »