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Archive for the ‘RK28’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #173: Growing Pup

Like normal growing pups, PK3 is spending more and more time in the water. He’s long, robust, and growing quickly. RK28 seems to be holding her weight, too. PK3 is 25 days old today, so should have another 2-3 weeks with his mom. PK3’s three-year-old sister, RL28, has been hanging out nearby lately too.

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Field Report: July 2022

The Kauai team logged 320 seal sightings this month. This included 32 individually identified seals.

  • August: 320
  • July: 311
  • June: 283
  • May: 248
  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213

New:

·       RK28 gave birth to PK3 (3rd pup of the year for Kauai) on the north shore. The usual signage was erected and the pup watch schedule continued. The male pup is thriving.

·       Closely monitored yearling RP32 who is in thin body condition. The seal is likely in pre-molt.

Updates:

·       RP28 – hooked and trailing line. Hook was non-life threatening in right corner of the mouth. Removed leader with metal swivel using a seat belt cutter mounted on a pole. Will monitor RP28, anticipate hook will come out on its own. UPDATE: seal was re-sighted several times this month and is hook-free; the seal threw the hook on his own.

·       An adult seal was sighted at Secret’s Beach with heavy line trailing from the mouth. The seal was chased off by an off-leash dog before staff arrived. The seal’s ID is unknown and no further reports of a hooked seal have been received. UPDATE: no further reports or sightings.

·       Pup translocation: female pup PK2 who was born at Polihale to R400 was immediately translocated to the north shore after weaning. The pup was tagged RQ52 (Q52/Q53 tags) and is thriving in her new location, socializing with many other seals in the area. UPDATE: the seal has remained in the release area and is thriving.

Molting: 3 seals molted this past month.

Vaccination: Vaccinated weaned pup RQ52.

Volunteers 

·       Trained 5 new volunteers

·       Volunteer pup watch schedule is in place for the pups and weaners on the north shore.

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Monk Seal Monday #172: Welcome PK3

Late last week, regular “pupper” RK28 gave birth to Kauai’s third pup of the year. Here’s a photo of RK28 and her pup hours after birth.

PC: J. Thomton

RK28 was first identified as an adult in 2003, so she’s easily a minimum of 23 years old. She’s birthed eight known pups, but there have likely been others, too. In 2008, RK28 pupped on Oahu. In 2013, she was documented with a pup on Niihau. In 2014, she pupped for the first known time on Kauai. Then, starting in 2018, she’s pupped every year here. So, she pups around.

When you get to be RK28’s age, you’ve experienced some things, and over the years, she’s made headlines in these digital pages.

In 2021, she ranked as out number one reported Hawaiian monk seal on Kauai, especially impressive because the number of days she spent with her pup last year were not included in the total. (Read more about that here.)

In 2018, RK28 was involved in a “pup-switching” event, in which pups from nearby mothers somehow get switched. In this case, there were three moms/pups on the same beach at the same time. After numerous switches, the result was RH58, also known as Rocky, started showing aggression toward her pup. After numerous attempts to re-unite her with her pup, he was taken and successfully reared on Hawaii Island at Ke Kai Ola. (Read more about that here and here.)

In 2016, RK28 was involved in a male mobbing incident that left her with significant scarring on her back. (Read more about that here.)

In 2014, sadly, RK28 was involved in a horrific dog attack that left her two-week-old pup dead. (Read more about that here.)

Luckily, RK28’s recent pups are known to still be hanging around Kauai. They include: RKA4, RL28, RM28, and RP28. This year, both RM28 and RP28 were involved in hooking events.

This year’s pup has already been identified as male. He’s on the thin side, so it’s good to see him nursing, as in this photo.

PC: K. Rogers
PC: K. Rogers

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Last week, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) reported the fifth Hawaiian monk seal pup born on Oahu this year. Lesley Macpherson of the DLNR Division of State Parks captured the birth on video.

DLNR also reported new mom RH92 gave birth to her first-born pup, PO4, on or around April 14. RH92 was born to RK22 in May 2016. Shortly after weaning, a fisherman witnessed a dog attack her. Luckily, the puncture wounds weren’t deep; however, she was given antibiotics to stave off any possible infection. Then, she started feeding off scraps at a boat harbor, so she was translocated to a remote beach elsewhere on the island. Except that she returned to the boat harbor within a couple weeks. Luckily, an outreach campaign and regular law enforcement patrols reduced the amount of fishing scraps, and RH92 left the immediate area, foraging more widely. In November 2018, at the young age of two-and-a-half, RH92 made the open-ocean crossing to Oahu where she has been regularly sighted ever since.

On Kauai, there are several females who have pupped on the island in recent years:

  • RB00: A recent regular “pupper” on Kauai, RB00’s due date is predicted to be May 1. She was born on Kauai but spends her days on/off Hawaii Island and typically rolls onto a Kauai beach on the north shore a day or two before giving birth.
  • R400, also a regular pupper on Kauai. She pupped at Polihale last year in mid-June.
  • The prolific RH58 took last year off and did not pup. At this point, she has not been confirmed to be pregnant.
  • RK22 last known pupping event was 2017. She’s rarely sighted, presumably spending her days at Niihau.
  • RK28, another traveler, she has not been sighted recently.
RB00

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One more recap for 2021. Here you’ll find the top ten Hawaiian monk seals “reported” on Kauai during 2021. “Reported” seals are those that were called in—and identified—to the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui hotline. (See a monk seal on the beach? Report it to 808-651-7668.)

However, what’s not included in this list are pups born in 2021. That’s because regular “pup watches” by dedicated volunteers tend to skew pup “reported” numbers. And because moms spend the first four to six weeks of their pups’ lives right by their sides, they’re also not included in this list–at least, their time with their pups is not included. Because you’ll see our number one reported seal was RK28, a mom, and 105 of her reported sightings did not include days with her pup KP3.

So, here’s the Top Ten list for 2021:

  1. RK28 – 105 reports
  2. RM36 – 70 reports
  3. R2XW – 61 reports
  4. RM28 – 50 reports
  5. Temp606 – 42 reports
  6. R353 – 40 reports
  7. RG58 – 38 reports
  8. temp607 – 37 reports
  9. RL08 – 36 reports
  10. R1KY – 36 reports

This list is quite different from last year. To compare years, click here. To learn more about each of these seals, scroll down until you find their permanent ID number under the “categories” column on the right and click on their ID. That will return a list of all the previous mentions of them on this website.

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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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