Archive for the ‘RM28’ Category

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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Field Report: July 2022

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 311 seal sightings this month. This included 25 individually identified seals.

  • July: 311
  • June: 283
  • May: 248
  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286


·       An adult seal was sighted at Kauapea (a.k.a. Secrets) with a 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.


·       RM28 – dehooked in June has been resighted several times and the external hook injury has fully healed.

·       RP28 – hooked and trailing line. Hook non-life threatening in right corner of the mouth. Removed leader with metal swivel with seat belt cutter mounted on a pole. Will monitor RP28. Anticipate hook will come out on its own. Seal has not been resighted to confirm if hook is still present.

·       Pup translocation: female pup PK2 who was born at a remote location on the west side to R400 was immediately translocated to the north shore after weaning. The pup was tagged RK52 (Q52/Q53 tags) and is thriving in her new location, socializing with many other seals in the area.

·       PK1 was flipper tagged as RQ60 (Q60/Q61 tags) and has remained near her natal beach. The pup’s girth was an impressive 130 cm, which is on the large size. And standard length was 152 cm, nearly a foot longer than the average pup.

·       The severely mobbed seal temp614 was last sighted on July 7.

Molting: 3 seals molted this past month. 

Displacements from Poipu Keiki Pool: R2XW subadult female – 1 time

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Field Report: June 2022

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 283 seal sightings this month. This included 27 individually identified seals.

  • June: 283
  • May: 248
  • April: 294
  • March: 292
  • February: 233
  • January: 233
  • December: 267
  • November: 168
  • October: 229
  • September: 251
  • August: 213
  • July: 286
  • June: 218


·       Pup PK2 born on a remote west side beach to R400 in the same location as the previous year. Staff assessed and put up signs for a pup enclosure.

·       Seal response at Poipu, hooked J/F RM28. Team captured RM28 at Poipu Beach Park and removed hook from the right side of the neck. 

·       Seal response at Palamas, hooked J/M RP28.  Assessed seal, hook non-life threatening in right corner of the mouth. Removed leader with metal swivel with seat belt cutter mounted on a pole. Will monitor RP28, anticipate hook will come out on its own.

·       Seal with extensive mobbing wounds sighted at numerous sites on the south shore. Wounds appear to be healing slightly, continue to receive dozens of calls from the public daily. Will continue to monitor and assess if she haul outs and possibly administer antibiotics.


·       RB00‘s pup PK 1 continues to thrive, the pup watch schedule continues.

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

Molting: 2 seals molted this past month. 

Displacements from Poipu Keiki Pool: RF28 adult male – 1 time


·       Continue to be stretched thin with so many seals requiring intensive management at Poipu. We will continue to recruit additional new volunteers.

·       Volunteer pupwatch schedules are in place for both pupping events.

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 #167: RM28 De-Hooking

Two-year-old RM28 is a Kauai regular. Last year, she ranked fourth on the top ten list of most reported Hawaiian monk seals on the Garden Island.

RM28 is known to haul out on the South Shore. This past April, RM28 had to be displaced (by a trained team) from the keiki pool at Poipu on two occasions.

But she hadn’t been seen for a couple weeks until this past Friday when she, once again, hauled out in Poipu—this time entangled with a fishing hook and line. A team responded and determined she had neither ingested the hook nor lodged it in her mouth and/or cheek. The hook was, weirdly, located on the external side of her neck. The team was able to successfully catch her, remove the hook, and release her.

Here are some photos. 

PC: J. Thomton
PC: J. Thomton

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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


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


·       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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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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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: 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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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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.


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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