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Archive for the ‘RK58’ Category

Field Report: April 2022

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 294 seal sightings this month. This included 26 individually identified seals.

  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218
  • May: 209
  • April: 155

New:

·       Monk seal activity in the Poipu area remains high, with several seals hauled out daily on the very busy Poipu Beaches. 

Updates:

·       New subadult male with bleach mark V11 (temporary ID of V11) is exhibiting concerning behavior by approaching people in the water within three feet, with an obvious interest in humans and no signs of fear. Displacements from the keiki pool in Poipu by staff also revealed the seal has very little fear of humans, but instead boldly approaches crowding boards. Update: this seal was displaced from the keiki pool four times in April and continues to show very little fear of humans. Will continue to closely monitor this seal.

Molting: One seal completed a molt last month at Poipu, a challenging location to manage. 

Displacements: It was a very busy month with 12 displacements from the keiki pool. There were many seals in the Poipu area socializing, mounting, and playing together all day long. Several subadult males showed very little fear or reaction to displacement, specifically RK58 and V11. The following seals were displaced:

·       V11 subadult male – four times

·       RK58 subadult male – four times

·       Temp 609 subadult male – one time

·       RF28 adult male – one time

·       RM28 juvenile female – two times

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RK58 with infected wounds from dog bite.

About a year ago, subadult male RK58 appeared on the beach with two puncture wounds, one on each side of his head. His body condition quickly deteriorated. His weight dropped. his head wounds swelled and oozed. He was reported to be lethargic and unresponsive to human activity on the beach.

After a health assessment, it was determined RK58 had been attacked by a dog. He was captured and flown to Ke Kai Ola on Hawaii Island where he was rehabilitated and, eventually, returned to Kauai and released.

Unfortunately, the RK58 dog encounter wasn’t the last. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last September, a woman reported two large dogs barking at a seal hauled out at Makua Beach on the north shore. The seal growled in return and moved toward the water. 

In December, a large dog pinned down a seal also at Makua. The dog’s owner pulled the dog off the seal. The seal left soon afterward and no blood was observed. The next day, the dog’s owner called to self-report the incident.

This year, already, two more incidents have been reported, both taking place at Mahaulepu. In one, two off-leash puppies flushed a seal into the water. No contact was made. In the other, three off-leash dogs flushed a seal into the water. In both cases, the dog owners were nearby but not in control of their dogs.

And these are the only incidents that have been reported.

The seal’s health isn’t the only concern in these interactions.  Seals carry diseases that are communicable to dogs. Hawaiian monk seals, like any wild animal, are likely to act aggressively if they feel threatened. A dog that is merely investigating too closely may be considered a threat to the seal. 

As a reminder, dogs are not allowed at County of Kauai beach parks. Elsewhere, according to Kauai County Code Leash Law Section 22, dogs must be under control of their owner by a leash (not more than eight feet long) when off the owner’s property. 

Too, Hawaiian monk seals are protected by Federal and State laws. Owners of any dog that disturbs a monk seal may be cited in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and/or the Endangered Species Act.

In general, to help monk seals: 

  1. Keep beaches clean.
  2. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  3. Keep seals wild—give them space.
  4. When fishing, pull your fishing line in until the seal leaves the area.
  5. Keep cats exclusively indoors. Cats that live outdoors spread the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is lethal to monk seals and other native wildlife.
  6. Vaccinate your pets and keep dogs leashed at all times. Dogs have injured and even killed monk seals through attacks and bites, and they can disturb seals resting on the beach. They can also transmit diseases to seals.
  7. Promote healthy oceans.
  8. Share your enthusiasm and educate others.

Click here for more ways to be a friend to endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

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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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Field Report: July 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 286 seal sightings this month. This included 29 individually identified seals.

  • July 286
  • June: 218
  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120

New:

  • A subadult male seal (ID: temp606) was found with a medium size circle hook and 9 feet of heavy trailing line. The line was trimmed, leaving 3 feet trailing. Five days later the seal we resighted hook-free, indicating the seal threw the hook on its own.
  • The weaned male pup KP1 was found with a medium size circle hook and 4 inches of heavy trailing line. The hooking was not life threatening and was monitored. Seven days later, the seal was hook-free, indicating this seal threw the hook on its own, too.
  • Instagram video submitted to NOAA of a female monk seals being mobbed by male seals off Lehua.  Kauai staff notified PMRF biologists to look out for this seal, plan to assess and treat seal if found.
  • Displaced two seals 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 born at Polihale successfully weaned after 37 days of nursing. Daily pup monitoring by staff and volunteers minimized disturbance by trucks on the beach, surfers, swimmers, and campers. Due to the high risk posed by reckless beach driving common at Polihale, a thorough risk analysis was conducted to assess hazards the weaned pup would face after the mother departed. The analysis concluded that translocation from Polihale Beach to another remote beach was the safest management option for the pup. Therefore, the pup was captured, transported, flipper tagged, and vaccinated by the Kauai team, and released at another safer location. The seal is now tagged RP20, has remained in release area, and has been sighted socializing with other juvenile seals on a daily basis.
  • Flipper tagging and morbillivirus vaccination for pup KP1 are planned for August. 
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead on the south shore in April. Gross necropsy did not reveal much, awaiting histopathology lab results.
  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds. Still no re-sightings of him since release.
  • Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, our new methods of monitoring continue, which include:
    • Weekly surveys of key beaches conducted by NOAA and DLNR staff
    • 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 initial vaccine this month.

Molting: 4 seals molted this month

Bleach Marking: 1 seal was bleach marked 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, but has now resumed.

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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Field Report: May 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 209 seal sightings this month. This included 28 individually identified seals.

  • May: 209
  • April: 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147

New:

  • Flipper tagged RH58’s (Rocky) pup from 2020 as RM58, and gave morbillivirus vaccine.
  • Return of visitors causing increased disturbance to seals across the island. More signs put at racks at Poipu beach park to manage SRA without ropes and volunteers deployed.

Updates:

  • RB00 and new pup KP1 continue to thrive. 
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead on the south shore. Carcass was fresh code 2, collected and frozen on Kauai, then shipped to Oahu for necropsy. Gross necropsy did not reveal much, awaiting histopathology lab results.
  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds.

Morbillivirus Vaccination: RM58 received the initial vaccine this month.

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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Field Report: April 2021

Update: The Kauai team logged 155 seal sightings this month. This included 31 individually identified seals.

  • April 155
  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147
  • April: 117


New:

  • Flipper tagged a new yearling seal likely from Niihau. New ID is R2XW. 
  • Flipper tagged 2020 pup PK1 as RM36. 
  • RB00 pupped on north shore beach. Pup KP1 is thriving.
  • 3-year-old male R1NI washed ashore dead at west side. Carcass was fresh code 2, collected and frozen on Kauai, then shipped to Oahu for necropsy. 
  • Return of visitors with Kauai entering Safe Travels Program causing increased disturbance to seals at Poipu. More signs put at racks at Poipu beach park to manage SRA without ropes and volunteers deployed.

Updates:

  • Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released at on March 26. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds.
  • 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
    • 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: RM28 received the initial vaccine this month.

Volunteers: 

  • Volunteer program remains on hold due to COVID-19.

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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Field Report: March 2021

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 137 seal sightings this month. This included 28 individually identified seals.

  • March: 137
  • February: 119
  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147
  • April: 117
  • March: 200

New:

·       A neonate monk seal pup was found dead at Makua – Ha’ena Beach Park area. The road to Hanalei was closed due to a landslide at this time, and therefore no response was possible. A local resident assisted by taking photos and burying the carcass on the beach. The pup’s umbilical cord was still attached. No pregnant seals were known to be in the area, therefore the mother’s identity is unknown.

·       A new adult female seal was sighted at PMRF with remarkable scars and given an official ID. Scars do not match to any existing known seal. ID is now temp 603.

·       Closely-monitored, juvenile male RL08 who remained hauled out in the same location for seven days. It was uncertain whether the seal had been foraging at night or remaining in the same location for the entirety of time until vacating the area. RL08 appears to be foraging normally now.

·       Monitored several pregnant seals that are likely to pup on Niihau in the next couple months.

Updates:

·       Adult female RK13 continues to be closely monitored due to previous logging behavior and possible dog bite injuries. Two doses of antibiotics were administered using the pole syringe in February. RK13 appeared stable and healthy in March.

·       Subadult male seal RK58 was returned from KKO after 6 weeks of rehab and released on the north shore. He was treated at KKO for likely dog attack injuries that resulted in significant weight loss and infected puncture wounds.

·       Again this month, off-leash dogs continue to be a problem. This past month dogs at Shipwrecks Beach, and Kukui Ula harbor in Poipu were problematic. Worked with DOCARE to monitor and enforce leash violations.

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

  • Weekly surveys of key beaches conducted by staff.
  • 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. 

·       Bleach marks applied: juvenile female, unknown, applied V7 bleach mark.

Volunteers: 

·       Volunteer program remains on hold due to COVID-19.

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Monk Seal Monday #125: RK58 Returns Home.

On Friday, March 26, RK58, a juvenile male, made his return flight to Kauai via the U.S. Coast Guard. He spent five-and-a-half weeks at Ke Kai Ola, also known as the Monk Seal Hospital, on Hawaii Island. 

RK58 had a challenging recovery after suffering severe trauma wounds to the head, neck and left front flipper from a suspected dog attack. Read here for more on his condition when he first arrived at Ke Kai Ola. 

“We are so grateful that The Marine Mammal Center was able to immediately activate and provide the intensive care that these two patients needed,” said Dr. Michelle Barbieri, Lead Scientist for NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, in a press release. “Their return to the wild is important for the future of the species and we are glad that they are back home.”

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Field Report: February 2021

The Kauai team logged 119 seal sightings this month. This included 24 individually identified seals.

  • January: 125
  • December: 119
  • November: 133
  • October: 152
  • September: 152
  • August: 198
  • July: 120
  • June: 81
  • May: 147
  • April: 117
  • March: 200
  • February: 264

New:

·       Subadult male RK58 was discovered in much thinner body condition with significant weight loss since prior sighting 2 months earlier. He also had remarkable swelling around the head, appeared weak, lethargic, dull, and fairly unresponsive to human activity on the beach. The swelling around the head appeared to be two abscesses with draining tracts likely caused by small punctures visible on each side of the head. The seal was captured and transported to KKO by USCG for rehab. The seal had likely suffered from a dog attack weeks earlier with bite injuries around the head, chest, and flippers. RK58 is recovering well and likely to be returned to Kauai in March or April.

·       Several pregnant seals are being monitored that are likely to pup on Niihau in the next couple months.

Updates:

·       Adult female RK13 continues to be closely monitored due to logging behavior and possible dog bite injuries. Two doses of antibiotics were administered using the pole syringe in February.

·       Off-leash dogs continue to be a problem. This past month dogs at Shipwrecks Beach and Kukui Ula harbor in Poipu were problematic. Worked with DOCARE to monitor and enforce leash violations.

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

  • Weekly surveys of key beaches by staff.
  • 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. 

Also:

Bleach marks applied: subadult female, unknown, applied V5 bleach mark.

Molting seals: Monitored an adult male who molted at PMRF this month.

Vaccines: Administered booster morbillivirus vaccine to PK1.

Volunteer program: Remains on hold due to COVID-19.

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