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Archive for the ‘RK28’ Category

Field Report: September 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 251 seal sightings this month. This included 30 individually identified seals.

  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218
  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152

New:

  • Discovered another new yearling male seal near Kapaa. The seal is likely from Niihau and we hope to flipper tag him soon.
  • Off-leash dogs and irresponsible pet owners continue to disturb seals. Two large dogs were witnessed by the public harassing a large seal at Makua (also known as “Tunnels”). The seal was lunging and vocalizing at the dogs as the dogs continued to circle and bark at it. No physical contact was made. The owner was out snorkeling and did little to intervene once out of the water. DOCARE and the Humane Society were contacted. The Humane Society field officer said they will focus patrols in that area. Additional reports of off-leash dogs were received this month. 

Updates:

  • Adult female RK28 pupped on the north shore on August 10, 2021. The mother and pup (KP3) remained in the area until the pup weaned on October 2, 2021. The nursing period was 53 days. Flipper tagging and vaccination is scheduled for October.
  • The female pup RP20 born at Polihale and translocated to the north shore after weaning has remained in the release area; and has been sighted socializing with other juvenile seals regularly. 
  • Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, our new methods of monitoring continue, which include:
    • Weekly surveys of key areas conducted by staff;
    • DAR staff conducting weekly island wide Creel Surveys;
    • PMRF staff continuing to send in routine reports and photos; and
    • Requesting that people who call the hotline to report seals assist us by sending several photos and setting-up SRA signs or sticks. 

Morbillivirus Vaccination: RP32 received her initial vaccine this month.

Molting: Four seals molted this month.

Volunteers:

  • The volunteer response program was restarted in a modified form in June after being on hold since March, 2020. Currently, volunteers are dispatched for hauled out monk seal reports to post signs, assess and ID the seal, collect routine data, and then depart the area. Outreach/education should be as minimal as possible to reduce COVID exposure risk. For busy locations, a spot check schedule will be established. This technique has proven effective and will continue until further notice.
  • The training of new volunteers has been on hold due to COVID Delta variant surging. Program information and follow-up emails sent to new recruits.

Research/Support of PIFSC:

  • Subsampled KP3 tissue plug for NOAA PIFSC.
  • Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.
  • Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.

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Field Report: August 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 213 seal sightings this month. This included 24 individually identified seals.

  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218
  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198

New:

  • Adult female RK28 pupped at a remote beach on the north shore. The mother and pup (KP3) remain in the area and are thriving. A daily pup watch schedule has been established and pup zone set with numerous signs.
  • Displaced one seal, JF R2XW, from the Poipu Keiki pool as part of the Poipu seal management plan.  
  • Return of visitors continuing to cause increased disturbance to seals across the island. 

Updates:

  • The female pup RP20 born at Polihale and translocated elsewhere after weaning has remained in the release area; and has been sighted socializing with other juvenile seals on a daily basis.
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead at Palamas Beach on the south shore in April. Necropsy results are complete and no definitive cause of death has been determined. However, screenings for morbillivirus, toxoplasmosis, and other routinely screened pathogens were negative.
  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on the north shore on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds. RK58 was finally resighted in August, on the east side of Kauai, and he is in good body condition.
  • Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, our new methods of monitoring continue, which include:
    • Weekly surveys of key beaches conducted by Olry and Thomton.
    • DAR staff conducting weekly island wide Creel Surveys.
    • PMRF staff continuing to send in routine reports and photos.
    • Requesting that people who call the hotline to report seals assist us by sending several photos and setting-up SRA signs or sticks. 

Morbillivirus Vaccination: RP20 (KP2) received her booster vaccine this month.

Molting: 4 seals molted this month.

Volunteers:

  • The volunteer response program was restarted in June after being on hold since March, 2020. Currently, volunteers are dispatched for hauled out monk seal reports to post signs, assess and ID the seal, collect routine data, and then depart the area. Outreach/education should be as minimal as possible to reduce COVID exposure risk. For busy locations, a spot check schedule will be established. This technique has proven effective and will continue until further notice.
  • The training of new volunteers has been on hold due to COVID, Delta variant surging. Program information and followup emails sent to new recruits.

Research/Support of PIFSC:

  • Subsampled KP3 placenta for NOAA PIFSC.
  • Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.

  • Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.

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Welcome KP3.

The well known female RK28 gave birth to the third Kauai pup of the year last Thursday. This pup will be known as KP3 until it is eventually flipper tagged. This is RK28’s fourth consecutive year to pup in the same location at a remote beach on the north shore. Her previous pups are:

  • 2018: RKA4 – male
  • 2019: RL28 – female
  • 2020: RM28 – female

RK28 is the mother who lost her two-week old pup in a 2014 dog attack. We suspect she pupped elsewhere for a few years after this incident before returning to Kauai in 2018 to resume pupping.

Similar to the previous pup events in 2020 and 2021, our pup monitoring efforts will be curtailed due to COVID-19, however we are still hoping to conduct daily monitoring checks that focus on adjusting signs, assessing the health of the pair, and taking photos. Outreach to beach users is not the objective, and fortunately the location is remote with just a few people on the beach day. Those interested in assisting with the daily checks should call 808-651-7668. 

These rules may change as DLNR adjusts volunteer protocols due to the current spike in COVID cases.

PC: M. Olry
PC: M. Olry
PC: M. Olry

RK58 Sighting.

Finally, after four-and-a-half months, subadult male seal RK58 was re-sighted! Earlier this year, K58 spent six weeks at Ke Kai Ola, the Monk Seal Hospital, on Hawaii Island due to injuries sustained in a suspected dog attack that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds. After treatment, K58 was flown back to Kauai, released on March 26, and not known to have been seen since. That is, until August 11th when a visitor–George–saw K58 and took this photo. George went home, checked out our website, saw the history of K58, and realized he had made a very important discovery: K58 is alive and well. Thanks, George! And thank goodness for readable field tags on those rear flippers!

PC: G. Egbert

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[CONTENT WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES.]

This weekend, several people called the hotline to report a monk seal with a gnarly wound. Turns out, it was eight-month-old RM28, born to RK28 last August. The wound was a what remained after a cookiecutter shark latched onto RM28, swiveled, and took off with a plug of flesh.

Thankfully, Hawaiian monk seals have an amazing ability to heal wounds such as these through a process called “tissue granulation,” and already, RM28’s wound is starting to heal around the edges.

PC: J. Thomton

The most common shark encounters that monk seals have is with cookiecutters. Almost all Hawaiian monk seals have scars that were inflicted by cookiecutter sharks. But the wounds heal quickly, as this one will, and might one day be almost impossible to see.

The cookiecutter shark, also called a cigar shark, isn’t the most photogenic.

PC: NOAA

The species can be found in warm, oceanic waters worldwide. Its common name comes from the cookie-cutter-like wounds it leaves in its prey. This small shark grows 16 to 22 inches in length. It lives at depths of 3,200 feet during the day but moves up the water column at night to feed, which it does by using its suction cup-like lips to lock onto its prey. Then, it spins its body, using the row of serrated teeth on its lower jaw to remove a plug of flesh, leaving behind crater-like wounds that are two inches across and approximately two-and-a-half inches deep.

One of the more interesting characteristics of cookiecutter sharks is they glow bluish-green, because its underside is bioluminescent. But cookiecutters also have a non-luminescent band to deceive its predators into thinking it’s smaller than it really is. When its predator moves in, the cookiecutter shark goes on the offensive, snagging a hunk of flesh for its meal. They are considered parasites.

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Here are some year-end stats. Like everything for 2020, remember that these numbers are greatly influenced due to COVID-19, which paused the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui’s volunteer program.

Grand sightings total: 

  • 2,005 or 5.5/day monk seal sightings on Kauai in 2020.
  • 3,154 or 8.9/day in 2019.
  • 3,253 or 8.9/day in 2018.
  • 3,621 or 9.9/day in 2017.
  • 3,236 or 8.9/day in 2016.
  • 3,321 or 9.1/day in 2015.
  • 2,516 or 6.9/day in 2014.

Kauai population: 

  • 67 unique individual seals sighted on Kauai in 2020.
  • 67 in 2019.
  • 60 in 2018.
  • 60 in 2017.
  • 56 in 2016.
  • 53 in 2015.
  • 47 in 2014.

Births: 3 total born on Kauai in 2020.

  • V00 (bleach-marked) born to RB00 in March.
  • V02 (bleach-marked) born RH58 to in August.
  • RM28 (flipper-tagged) born to RK28 in August.

Mortalities: 6 confirmed mortalities in 2020.

  • R313 and fetus: adult female with near full term fetus, necropsy pending.
  • RJ36: 3-year-old male, hook ingestion, necropsy pending.
  • RKA6: 2-year old female, mummified condition, cause of death unknown.
  • RL52: 1-year-old male, necropsy pending, case under investigation.
  • Weaned female pup, ID unknown, necropsy pending, case under investigation.
  • Subadult seal, sex and ID unknown, mummified condition, cause of death unknown, case under investigation.

Niihau Seals (likely): sighted a minimum of 8 new seals in 2020, but likely more as several new untagged seals had no markings or scars so no temporary IDs were given.

  • 8 in 2020.
  • 5 in 2019.
  • 9 in 2018.
  • 12 in 2017.
  • 6 in 2016.
  • 14 in 2015.

Displacements: 4 total displacements occurred.

  • 3 displacements from unsafe or unsuitable locations (boat ramps, beach roads, sidewalks, etc).
  • 1 displacements from the Poipu keiki pool. 

Vaccination for morbillivirus efforts: 

Due to COVID-19, fieldwork was minimal and no seals were vaccinated. Plans are in place to resume vaccinations in 2021.

Bleach marking effort: 

6 bleach marks were applied.

Stranding Responses in 2020: 

One monk seal stranding response and 6 carcass retrievals:

  • RK13 – gillnet wrapped around muzzle was removed with a pole mounted cutting tool. 

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Monk Seal Monday #113: RL28 Update

At long last, RL28 has been re-sighted, and she looks great–big and healthy.

RL28 was born to one of our regular “puppers” RK28 on July 19, 2019. She was observed often during her nursing days and after, including a few times in January and early February of this year. However, she hadn’t been re-sighted–and reported–since February 13, 2020.

It’s not unusual for Hawaiian monk seals to seemingly disappear for months on end. But it’s always good to get eyes on them every now and then to know they’re alive and well. That’s why reports to the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui hotline (808-651-7668) are always helpful.

Photos like these are helpful, too, showing views from each side, rear flippers (with tags, if possible) and head-on. The use of a telephoto lens is super helpful, and allow program coordinators to 1) identify the seal (based on scars if there are no flipper tags); and 2) spot any evidence of entanglements, such as a fish hooks. In this case, RL28 is looking great.

Photo credit: J. Thomton.

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Field Report: September

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 152 seal sightings this month. This included 22 individually identified seals.

  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147
  • April: 117
  • March: 200
  • February: 264
  • January: 319
  • December: 180
  • November: 223
  • October: 258
  • September: 203

New:

·       One-year old male monk seal, RL52, was found dead on the east shore of Kauai.

·       An adult seal was harassed and chased into the water by three off-leash dogs at Kealia Beach. The seal left the beach uninjured. DOCARE is investigating.      

·       Adult male R332, a Niihau seal, was sighted by the PMRF crew on Kauai for the first time ever.

Updates:

·       RH58 (Rocky) weaned her female pup, PK2, on Sept 15 after 39 days of nursing. The pup is fat, healthy and thriving. Since we are unable to flipper tag pups at this time, due to COVID-19, a bleach mark of V02 was applied to her fur.

·       RK28 (KC) weaned her female pup, PK3 on Sept 18 after 40 days of nursing. A bleach mark of V03 was applied to her fur. The mom and pup spent much of this time near large groups of campers and fishers within 100 feet of the pair, fishing sometimes as close as 10 feet to the seals. Signage was clearly posted around the seals; however, no direct outreach was conducted due to COVID. The seals appeared unbothered by the activity and there were no reports of human/seal interactions, aggression, or disturbance.

·       Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, our new methods of monitoring continue:

o   Weekly surveys of key beaches by staff;

o   DAR staff conducting weekly island wide Creel Surveys;

o   PMRF staff continuing to send in routine reports and photos; and

o   Requesting that people who call the hotline to report seals assist us by sending several photos and setting-up SRA signs or sticks. 

·       The weaned pup, PK1, is ranging more widely. A report was made of young boys throwing small rocks at her. Lately, she is much more aware and wary of humans on the beach.

Research/Support of PIFSC:

·       Sub-sampled scat, molt, and tissue plug samples accordingly.

·       Logged all seal sightings for PIFSC database. Organized photos and reported sightings, molt tallies, survival factors to send to PIFSC.

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Monk Seal Monday #109: Weaner Update

In the good news department, all three of Kauai’s monk seal pups born this year are female. The more females in the population, the greater the potential for a boost in population numbers–super important with endangered species. Additionally, all three are no longer “pups” but “weaners,” as NOAA refers to Hawaiian monk seal pups after their mothers wean them.

The year’s first-born was PK1, born to RB00. PK1 nursed for 45 days. PK2, born to RH58, nursed for 39 days. And PK3, born to RK28, nursed for 40 days.

Due to COVID-19, none of the weaners have been flipper tagged. That also means none have been measured for girth and length. However, here’s an anecdotal assessment of their size: PK2 is fat. PK3 is fatter. PK1 is still the fattest, and she has actually slimmed down some since she was weaned in April.

Instead of flipper-tagging, the use of “bleach tags” will be used to identify the weaners. PK1 has been bleached V00. PK2 has been bleached V02. In the coming days, it’s hoped to bleach PK3 as V03.

As the oldest, V00 has already started moving around quite a bit these days–between the north and east sides of the island. V02 and V03 are still sticking close to their natal beaches; however, V03 has just started to explore a bit more in the past week. During this time, all three are learning how to feed themselves.

It’s not unusual for recently-weaned seals to approach other seals in the hopes of finding one with the milk-producing gifts that their mothers once provided them. Typically, this results in a scuffle between weaner and the second seal, sand and water flying. However, last week, when PK3 approached PK2, no scuffle ensued. No milk ensued, either. But, for about 30 minutes, PK2 showed extreme patience in allowing PK3 to nudge, push, and nip her in the hopes of a little nourishing milk. Here are some photos from that interaction.

PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton

The past several years, R400 birthed late in the summer along Na Pali coast; however, there have been no reports of her this year. Surprisingly she was sighted on Oahu for the first time ever this past July, and she did not look pregnant. So, maybe she’s taking a year off.

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Monk Seal Monday #106: (P)updates!

This past weekend, Kauai’s newest pups made two weeks of age. Both are progressing as expected–nursing and gaining weight, losing their fetal folds, taking longer swims, and exploring deeper water.

Interestingly, last year, these same two moms pupped on the same beach within a day of each other. This year, two days separated their delivery dates, again on the same beach. RH58 gave birth to PK2 on August 7th and RK28 gave birth to PK3 on August 9th.

(Note: pups are referred to as “PK” for “Pup Kauai” followed by their birth order for the year. Once pups are weaned, they are flipper-tagged and given their science name, which is really a number. For more on flipper-tagging, click here.)

In 2018, these same two moms also pupped on the same beach. Only this time, they were involved in an unusual series of “pup switches” that resulted in one pup being rejected and rehabilitated at Ke Kai Ola, the monk seal hospital on Hawaii Island. (For more information on that event, click here and here.)

This year, moms and pups are, thus far, keeping their distance from each other.

Here are a series of photos taken last week on Wednesday, August 19th. Can you identify them? Who is RH58? PK2? Who is RK28? PK3? (Hint: You can click on RH58 and RK28 in the sidebar on the right to examine previous photos of these two seals. Look for identifying markers–scars, natural bleach marks, etc.) Answers below.

Top row: RH58 and PK2 left. RK28 and PK3 right.

Middle row: RK28 and PK3 left. RH58 and PK2 right.

Bottom row: RH58 and PK2 left. RK28 and PK3 right.

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Let’s continue last week’s post about male hierarchical displays and posturing among Hawaiian monk seals. Because they’re at it again. But this time, they’re vying for the attention of a female. Not just any female. A pregnant one. A very pregnant one.

Last Thursday, when a very pregnant RH58 (yes, that RH58, also known as Rocky the Celebrity Seal) showed up after making the oceanic crossing from Oahu, another seal, seven-year-old RN30 appeared, too. (RN30 was born to in 2013 to first-time mom RO28, who died of toxoplasmosis earlier this year.) RN30 approached RH58, getting close enough for her to display in a manner that indicated she wanted him to back off. That is, she lifted her head, opened her mouth, and vocalized at him.

By the next morning, another male had arrived. This one, R3CD. He was estimated to be six when he was tagged in 2017. RN30 positioned himself between the RH58 and R3CD. The dynamics got really interesting when RH58 hauled her heavy body into the water for a gravity-free swim. The boys followed, of course, and RN30 worked hard to keep his position in between the two. While RH58 floated about languidly in the shallows, RN30 darted over to R3CD. They’d splash a bit. Then, he’d zip back to check on RH58. Rinse. Repeat.

But the antics were just getting started. Things got more interesting when another pregnant female showed up–RK28. Her appearance kept the boys busy while at the other end of the beach, RH58 quietly gave birth to PK2.

By day’s end on Friday, RN30 was still annoying RK28 while R3CD quietly watched over PK2 and RH58.

Sunday morning broke to reveal RK28 had given birth to PK3.

Now, the boys are still hanging around but not quite as attentive. Typically, once a pup arrives, the males’ interest wanes, leaving moms to snuggle (bond) and feed (nurse) their young.

And with that bit of background, meet PK2.

20200807 PK2-620200807 PK2-520200807 PK2-4

And PK3.

k28 + pk3 - 2k28 + pk3 - 1

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