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Archive for the ‘RKA2’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #116: Top Ten

Below you’ll find the top ten “reported” Hawaiian monk seals on Kauai for 2020. By reported, we mean those monk seals 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.)

Keep in mind, many things affect this list. Monk seals often have favorite locations where they haul out. If a monk seal favors a location that happens to be easily accessible by humans, bingo, that seal will be reported more often to the hotline. Of course, monk seal moms and their pups rack up a high number of reported sightings, because they stick to the same beach for weeks on end. Molting monk seals, too. As this list will also reveal, young monk seals are often sighted and reported, too, because they tend to make themselves noticed;-)

To make this list a little more interesting, we’ve included only those tagged seals, meaning pups are not included until they are weaned and flipper-tagged.

You might find it interesting to compare this year to last year. You’ll see a few regulars appearing in both years, as well as, some newcomers to the list. However, keep in mind, because of COVID-19 and the greatly abbreviated volunteer program, this year’s reporting numbers are, as expected, quite lower. What’s interesting is that the many years of work by the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui has educated the public so well that the hotline is still ringing. Concerned citizens are calling and reporting seals. This is in great part due to the diligent outreach efforts of the volunteer team.

So, here goes:

  1. With 90 reported sightings, one-year-old female RL58 tops the list. She was born to the famous RH58, also known as Rocky, in July of 2019. She remains close to her natal beach and has a preference for hauling out in rocky areas rather than sand, and doesn’t socialize with other seals much.
  2. With 66 reported sightings, the 20 plus year-old-female RK13 ranks second. She is the most well-known seal on Kauai’s east side, easily identifiable by her blind white left eye, many body scars, and worn red flipper tags that read 5AA and 5AB. She has given birth at least three times that we know of, including in 2012, 2015, 2018. Hopefully she will continue that pattern and pup again in 2021.
  3. With 61 reported sightings, seven-year-old RN30 ranks third. He tends to range far and wide with reported sightings of him from many different beaches on Kauai and Oahu.
  4. With 52 reported sightings, the seven-year-old R353 ranks fourth. She first showed up on Kauai in 2016 and is likely a Niihau girl. The past couple of years we watched her gradually get very large and pregnant, disappear for a couple of months and then return after losing about half her body weight. We suspect her pups were born on Niihau.
  5. With 45 reported sightings, one-year-old male RL08 ranks fifth. He was infamously fat as a pup, nursing two full weeks longer than the average nursing period of 40 days. It appears that 54 days of fatty milk gave him a head start as he now looks more like a 3-year-old seal, rather than the yearling he is.
  6. With 44 reported sightings, R3CD and RN44 are tied for sixth. These 6 and 7-year-old males, respectively, are difficult to tell apart. They are the same size, have very few scars, and often challenge each other for the right to rest near certain females. However, RN44 has recently become a regular seal sighted on Oahu, so R3CD may have less competition in 2021.
  7. With 43 reported sightings, two-year-old female RKA2 comes in at a very close seventh. She’s the offspring of the late, great, RK30, and has become a very faithful east side seal, although originally from Milolii Beach on the Na Pali Coast.
  8. And finally tied for eighth, with 41 reported sightings, are the four-year-old R1NS and nine-year-old RK90. These healthy large females are both most likely from Niihau, but tagged on Kauai as yearlings. R1NS is currently looking rather large, and we suspect she is pregnant for her first time. The question is, where will she go to pup?

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The numbers are tallied. Below you’ll find the top ten “reported” Hawaiian monk seals on Kauai for 2019. By reported, we mean those monk seals that were reported—and identified—to the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui hotline. (See a monk seal on the beach? Report it to 808-651-7668.)

Keep in mind, many things affect this list. Monk seals often have favorite locations where they haul out. If a monk seal favors a location that happens to be easily accessible by humans, bingo, that seal will be reported more often to the hotline. Of course, monk seal moms and their pups rack up a high number of reported sightings, because they stick to the same beach for weeks on end. Molting monk seals, too. As this list will also reveal, young monk seals–especially young males–are often sighted and reported, too, because they tend to make themselves noticed;-)

To make this list a little more interesting, we’ve included only those tagged seals, meaning pups are not included until they are weaned and tagged.

So, here goes:

  1. With 122 reported sightings, five-year-old male R3CX tops our list. He was flipper-tagged as a youngster at Keoneloa (colloquially known as Shipwrecks) beach in March 2015. Since then, he’s been commonly seen roughhousing with other males along the south shore and has been displaced from dangerous areas on more than one occasion. He was last seen on November 30th at Poipu.
  2. With 117 reported sightings, four-year-old male RG58 follows close behind. Not surprising since they can both be found hauled out on the same beach or roughhousing in shallow water. Born to RH58 in 2015 on the north shore, RG58 is regularly sighted on the south shore. He was last reported today at Poipu.
  3. With 116 reported sightings, six-year-old female R7GM ranks third. Those numbers were boosted by the fact that she molted this year. She was last reported on the north shore on December 27th.
  4. With 99 reported sightings, six-year-old male RN44 ranks fourth this year, also boosted by his reported molting. RN44 was born to RH58 in 2013 on the north shore where he’s a regular and has been reported interacting with weaners. He was last reported on the north shore on December 27th.
  5. With 97 reported sightings, mature female RK13 ranks fifth this year, boosted in her numbers by her molt. Most of the sightings come from the east side; however, she sometimes pops up on the south and west side of the island. She’s also been known to swim up and log in canals. This year, RK13 was displaced from the road edge at Fuji Beach, Kapaa at 3:00 in the morning after calls from the police reported she was on the road’s edge and in danger of being run over. RK13 was reported today to be hauled out on the east side.
  6. With 77 reported sightings, sub-adult, four-year-old male RG22 ranks sixth. He was born to RK22 on the north shore but quickly made his way to the south shore, hanging out with the boys on the south shore. Once, he was photographed wearing a pair of swim goggles around his neck. Luckily, they fell off after a couple days. He was last reported on the south shore on October 10th but has since started to wander and was recently sighted off Hawaii Island.
  7. With 73 reported sightings, mature female RK30 ranks seventh. She’s approximately 21 years old and has given birth to 11 known pups, including RL30 this year. She was last seen on November 8th at Mahaulepu.
  8. With 68 reported sightings, one-year-old female RKA2 ranks eighth. She was born on a remote beach along Na Pali Coast in 2018 to RK30. She was last reported on December 20th on the east side.
  9. With 62 reported sightings, eight-year-old female RK52 ranks ninth. Her sightings are bolstered by two things: she weaned her first pup this year, and she was reported molting. RK52 favors north shore beaches. She was born to RH58 and was last reported on a north shore beach on December 22nd.
  10. With 58 reported sightings, three-year-old female R1NS rounds out our top ten list. She was flipper-tagged on the east side in 2017 and is notable for her natural bleach marks on the first three digits of her left fore flipper. She was last sighted on the north shore on December 29th.

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Another girl! Because RK30 gave birth in such a remote location, it wasn’t until a boat dropped off a crew to tag RK30’s pup that the pup’s gender was officially confirmed. Her tags are KA2/KA3, so her permanent ID is RKA2. You might be able to identify her by her natural bleach mark on her head. It’ll be interesting to see, however, whether she retains that identifier as she ages and her coat changes color.

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PK4 was also tagged last week. (She was born to RO28.) Her tags are tags KA6/KA7, so her permanent identification is RKA6 .

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