Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘RK31’ Category

Field Report: Winter 2013

2013 Year in Review: 2,249 individual seal sightings were reported in 2013 for an average of 6.2 seals per day! Again, the tireless efforts of the volunteer network made this possible. The Hui identified 43 different seals including 2 pups that were born on the north shore last summer. We also identified 6 new seals that made visits from nearby islands, perhaps from Niihau, Ka’ula and Lehua rock. As reported previously, a number of seals were entangled with fish hooks in 2013. We are pleased to report that all seven hookings resulted in successful hook removal and recovery!

Photo credit: Langley

Photo credit: Langley

Weaners (weaned seal pups): Close monitoring of weaned seals continued through the 2013 season and as this photo indicates, pup RN44 has successfully learned to forage on his own. His body condition would be rated as extremely healthy. He was also bleach marked (using common human hair bleach) with the identifier V44. These bleach marks only bleach the fur and last until the next annual molt. In the meantime, this marking makes identification by beach goers, spear fishers, boaters, and volunteers much easier, especially if these curious young seals exhibit problematic behaviors such as approaching spear fishers or swimmers.

Molting: As we reported last year, winter is a time when many adult male seals

Photo credit: Honnert

Photo credit: Honnert

molt. Scroll down to learn more about this physiologically demanding process.  RK31 is currently undergoing his annual molt as shown in this photo. It is important to give molting seals space, so if you encounter a molting seal please encourage all beach users to “Let sleeping seals lie” or, in this case, molt!

Unknown visitor: In December an unknown sub-adult male seal was sighted on the north shore and immediately reported by one of our lead volunteers.

Photo credit: Langley

Photo credit: Langley

Typically unknown seals such as this only spend a few days on Kauai before disappearing again. Knowing this, we quickly organized a tagging team and successfully

flipper tagged this seal as R6AW and injected a small microchip tag (just like the microchips dogs and cats get). After tagging, this seal spent the remainder of the day resting on the beach, departed that evening and has not been re-sighted since. Later, during photographic analysis of unique scar patterns, this seal was matched with photos from previous fieldwork in the Lehua Rock/Niihau area.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

2012 Year in Review: 2,556 individual seal sightings were reported in 2012 (many of the same animals on different days of course), or an average of 7 seals per day!  This was only possible due to the incredible efforts of the volunteer network.  The Kauai Monk Seal Conservation Hui identified 45 different seals on the beaches of Kauai during 2012, including 4 pups that were born on the beaches of Kauai in 2012.


Pupping Predictions for 2013!  Here are the predictions for 2013 provided by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center staff.  There were several regular ‘moms’ that skipped 2012 (R015, R305, RY30, RS00, R006) so they can pup anytime and likely will pup earlier in the year rather than later. We could also be seeing some first time moms this year.

Seal ID Island Predicted Date
RQ21 Molokai 3/29
RV06 Molokai 3/31
RI15 Molokai 4/26
RK13 Kauai 5/9
RK22 Kauai 5/13
RH58 Kauai 6/4
RK30 Kauai 6/10
RO20 Oahu 6/28
RH44 Molokai 7/11
R308 Molokai 7/23
RO17 Molokai 8/5
RV16 Kahoolawe 7/7
R912 Oahu 8/9
R5AY Oahu 9/10

Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Research on Kauai:

instrumented-sealThe Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) joined the Kauai crew in January for field work that included flipper tagging TempV19 (juvenile male) who is now tagged 8HY on the left rear flipper and 8HZ on right flipper.  His official ID is now R8HY.  Also, RW02 (adult male) was instrumented with a National Geographic Critter Cam which recorded 5 days of foraging and diving behavior (see photo below).  Click on this link to learn more about this program.

http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/hawaiian_monk_seal/news_and_highlights.php#article_20130901_001

Stranding Responses to Hooked Seals:

As some of you may have heard, two seals were hooked with Ulua circle hooks in Hawaiian waters during February, one was a juvenile male RT12 here on Kauai.

RT12 was successfully de-hooked twice and released back in the wild.  Here is how it played out.  Thanks to an early report from one of our lead volunteers, we found RT12 hauled out with a circle hook in his mouth and 8 feet of fishing line trailing from it.  A team was immediately dispatched and RT12 was captured and hook removal attempted, however the hook went through the bottom side of the tongue with the barb imbedded in it.  This made either sedation or surgery necessary, therefore we loaded RT12 into a transport cage, brought him to Lihue where he spent the night at the baseyard until a veterinary team arrived from Oahu the next morning.  After sedating RT12, we found that the hook had now gone all the way through the tongue and into the left cheek.  The hook was cut in half, and easily backed out of the tongue and cheek.  The damaged tissue was swollen and slightly infected, but in good condition. It appeared that the hook was in his tongue for 24 to 36 hours, we were very fortunate to catch it so soon.

A satellite tracking tag was attached to track his dive behavior and movement.  RT12 was also given an antibiotic injection and then released.  Another lead volunteer sighted him sleeping comfortably on the rocks just south of the release location later that day.

hooked-t12To our great surprise, one week later, RT12 was discovered with another hook in his mouth!   A volunteer reported seeing 4-5’ of fine monofilament line coming from the mouth of RT12 again! Can you find the fishing line??

With the excellent assistance of many volunteers, the coordinators were authorized to mobilize an assessment team and equipment to capture, restrain, dehook and potentially transport the seal. Once we caught RT12, we found and removed one ”J” hook from his left front flipper. Unfortunately when we examined his mouth we discovered the additional line coming from his mouth with the hook out of sight, requiring sedation and surgical intervention to remove it.

Once more, RT12 was loaded into the transport cage to be watched overnight at the DLNR baseyard by the coordinators.  On the morning of Feb. 13, Dr. Michelle Barbieri arrived from Oahu and helped us transport RT12 to a local Veterinary Clinic on Kauai.  Under general anesthesia, radiographs revealed another one inch “J” hook in the esophagus.  With an endoscope, special instruments, and the expertise of two veterinarians, the hook was removed and RT12 was given antibiotics and his right rear flipper tagged T43 (he lost his T13 last year).  An hour later, RT12 was released again.

We are all very happy that this seal was discovered early and his ingested hook was removed, may he never again swallow another hook!  It is with much appreciation, that we thank all who work so hard to monitor and care for each of these endangered Hawaiian monk seals when they rest on our beaches.  It takes all of us working together for a bright future that we can share together.

hooked-seal-xrayThe other hooking had a less fortunate ending.  A juvenile male, RK68, from the Big Island died from ingesting a circle hook.  The links below provide the details:

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/20971940/monk-seal-dies-after-swallowing-fish-hook

http://www.kitv.com/news/hawaii/Officials-Monk-seal-death-was-painful-preventable/-/8905354/18425672/-/96yfrpz/-/index.html

http://www.khon2.com/content/news/developingstories/story/Hawaiian-monk-seal-dies-after-ingesting-fishing/phINPPcsMESYPmbicdj3Bw.cspx

Annual Seal Molting:  Winter is the season that most male Hawaiian monk seal’s molt.  At this time their testosterone levels are low and mature males undergo their annual molt. Both the hair and the epidermis are sloughed and replaced in this “catastrophic molt” that is similar to elephant seals, but unlike all other seals.  In the Hawaiian monk seal the actual observed molting period is about 10 days when the seal is seen ashore before and after the hair-skin sloughing period. The actual physiological process is probably much longer, and is a metabolically demanding time requiring the seal to rest long periods on shore and fast, that is why it is important to allow monk seals to rest peacefully while molting.  Also, documenting the timing and duration of molt is a good indicator for a seal’s health.

In the last two months, mature male seals R018 and RK31 molted primarily on the south shore, and for several days together at Poipu Beach Park, requiring extensive volunteer efforts to monitor and protect these seals.  Much outreach and education happened as well, while many visitors standing downwind of the seal noticed the strong “stinky” smell, due to the molt!  We so appreciate all the many essential volunteers that assisted to adjust the seal protection zones (SPZ’s) as the seals moved from the vegetation early in the morning down to the wave wash to thermoregulate in the day’s heat and back up to the vegetation line to spend the night!

Photo credit: Lynn Nowatzki

Photo credit: Lynn Nowatzki

RK31 90% molted (Molt  is estimated by % of molted skin remaining. Molt starts from the face and belly where it is rubbed off first).  Notice also circular pink wound from a fresh cookie cutter shark bite over the left hip.

Many people notice that the Hawaiian monk seals are different colors.  Freshly molted seals are a silvery gray with a lighter gray ventrally.  Some seals may be stained red by red dirt, more often seen in young juveniles that haul out to rest and hide on dirt and rock beaches. With time pelage ages to darker brown and hues of green appear around the face and flippers due to algae growth!  See in the photo below three males of various ages that are different colors due to when they molted.  RV18 is an adult that molted March 2012, RW02 is a subadult that molted Sept. 2012, and R8HY is a juvenile that just molted Jan.2013.

Photo credit: Gary Langley

Photo credit: Gary Langley

lloyd-miyashiro

Read Full Post »

Photo credit: Mary Miyashiro

RK54 (juvenile male, flipper tag K54) showed continued facial swelling at the beginning of February, and DLNR staff was able to give him antibiotics on 2/11. He was not observed at all for some time after his injection, but has now been observed several times.  The swelling is still apparent, but much reduced. Photos are still critical to further health assessment, so please keep them coming!

RB24 (young adult female, flipper tags B24/B25) was 100% molted as of 2/24.

RK22 (RK54’s mom, flipper tags 6FD/6FH) has recently reappeared on Kauai in the Larsen’s area!  Perhaps she has returned to grace us with another pup in a few months!

Photo credit: Tree Cloud

RK30 (adult female with prominent entanglement scars) was observed “logging” (resting at the surface of the water) all day near the rocks at Ahukini Landing on 2/17.  This is somewhat unusual behavior, but RK30 has since been sighted several times, looking healthy and likely pregnant!

I am sorry to report that juvenile male seal RK56 (born to RK30 at Miloli’I, 5/12/11) was found dead at Maha’uelpu Beach on 3/5, amidst stormy, flash-flood conditions.  RK56 was recovered by DoCARE and NOAA staff, and shipped to Oahu that night for necropsy the next morning.

RK56 spent a lot of time during the past 3 months at Kalapaki Bay, near a local hangout called Pine Trees.  The uncles that picnic, drink and eat there every day took quite a liking to RK56, and became endearingly protective of him.   RK56 is also the little guy who was getting too curious around humans on the north shore in November 2011. We posted flyers about him, and filled out special observation logs to monitor his behavior.  I gave a presentation about him to the Hanalei to Haena Community Association.  Our north and east shore volunteers spent a LOT of hours intensively monitoring this seal.  On behalf of RK56, we thank the whole island of Kauai for the special care you showed to this little seal.  RK56 will be cremated, and his ashes returned to the ocean.

Adult male seals RV18 and RK31 are both freshly molted!

RT12 (juvenile male) was deliberately disturbed recently at Glass Beach by a man who pulled on his rear flippers. Thanks to the volunteer on-scene for the detailed incident report, which has been passed on to law enforcement.

Read Full Post »