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Archive for the ‘RM28’ Category

Monk Seal Monday #182: The Passing of RM28.

The Marine Mammal Center and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that three-year-old female RM28 passed away at Ke Kai Ola, the “Monk Seal Hospital,” in Kailua-Kona. They suspect she died from injuries due to severe shark bite trauma.

“Our team is deeply saddened to report the loss of RM28, especially knowing that this three-year-old seal could have played an important role to further boost the population of this endangered species,” said Dr. Sophie Whoriskey, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Veterinarian at Ke Kai Ola, in a statement.

RM28 was a well-known seal around Kauai. Born to RK28 in 2020, last year, RM28 ranked tenth on the list of most reported seals, indicating she liked to haul out at beaches where she was seen–and reported–by beach-goers. The year before, in 2021, she ranked fourth. In her short life, she made news on these pages–for hauling out in the keiki pool in Poipu, triggering her displacement on several occasions. And for an unusual fishing entanglement in June of last year. She hadn’t ingested a fish hook. Nor lodged the hook in her jaw. No, she’d somehow gotten the hook embedded into the external side of her neck. The response team was easily able to free her from the hook. In 2021, when RM28 was eight months old, she was reported with a round chunk of flesh missing above her left fore flipper. The wound was what remained after a cookiecutter shark latched onto her, swiveled, and took off with a plug of her flesh. That wound quickly healed. Unlike, sadly, those from another shark earlier this year.

The statement on RM28’s death from the Marine Mammal Center went on to report:

During the seal’s initial critical care period, Center experts stabilized the animal and began treating RM28 for extensive and severe wounds consistent with shark bite trauma. During the admission exam, the Center confirmed NOAA’s initial assessment and diagnosed the patient with severe shark bite trauma. The Center’s experts noted the animal was in poor body condition, administered antibiotics and pain medication, and also took a series of blood samples and swabs for further analysis. Despite the team’s best efforts, RM28 died in treatment on January 16.

A necropsy, or animal autopsy, was performed the next day to determine the cause of death. After a thorough necropsy exam, Center experts suspect that RM28 likely died directly from the severe trauma or due to complications associated with the trauma. The Center’s team is awaiting bloodwork diagnostics to determine whether the seal also had any underlying health complications. No other immediate findings of significance aside from the trauma and poor state of condition were found during the necropsy exam.

After displaying lethargic behavior, RM28 was rescued in a shallow cove off the Kauaʻi coast on January 11 by NOAA’s trained experts with assistance from the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources. NOAA received reports of RM28 appearing to be in poor condition the previous day. The animal was immediately brought to a DLNR facility on Kauaʻi for initial assessment and triage care. NOAA experts diagnosed the seal with severe wounds consistent with shark bite trauma and noted the animal was in poor condition.

RM28 was airlifted and transferred into the Center’s care at Ke Kai Ola via the U.S. Coast Guard for further rehabilitation on January 12. This action was taken after NOAA experts determined the animal needed long-term rehabilitative care and had stabilized enough for transport.

“Thanks to the numerous reports from concerned residents about this seal’s injuries, we were able to respond quickly and determine that RM28 needed veterinary care. She was a well-known seal on the beaches of Kauaʻi, and we are saddened by this loss.” said Jamie Thomton, NOAA Fisheries’ Kauaʻi Response Coordinator.

Although shark attacks are not uncommon, negative human interaction, fisheries interaction via hooking and entanglements, and diseases like toxoplasmosis are the main threats the endangered Hawaiian monk seal population faces on the main Hawaiian Islands.

As the only partner organization permitted by NOAA to treat and rehabilitate Hawaiian monk seals, The Marine Mammal Center is proud that nearly 30 percent of monk seals that are alive today are due to conservation efforts led by NOAA and partners like the Center.

Since 2014, the Center has rehabilitated and released 37 monk seals, most of which have been rescued from and returned to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as part of the Center’s partnership with NOAA Fisheries, utilizing resources in the area to identify seals in need, rescue and rehabilitate them, and give them a second chance at life.

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Here’s another recap for 2021. This list identifies the top ten Hawaiian monk seals “reported” on Kauai during 2022. “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 mom/pup reports. Because “pup watches” by dedicated volunteers tend to elevate pup “reported” numbers and because moms spend the first four to six weeks of their pups’ lives right by their sides, the reports of the mom/pup days are not included.

Keep in mind, other 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. Molting monk seals get reported more often, too. As well, young monk seals are often sighted and reported more, too, because they tend to hang around and make themselves noticed;-) Lastly, volunteers impact this number, too. Those dedicated volunteers who regularly scout certain beaches for monk seals (thank you very much) will also help inflate a certain seal’s confirmed reports.

Take a look at the Top Ten list for 2022:

  1. RF28: 108 confirmed sightings. Born in 2014 to R028 (who died of toxo after valiant try by veterinarians to treat and save her). Bottom lip scar left side. Most telling ID: Natural bleach mark over left shoulder. left tag gone. Bottom right tag broken.
  2. RK58: 104 confirmed sightings. Born on 7/16 in 2018 to RH58. Pup switch resulted in abandonment at 19 days age. Raised at Ke Kai Ola. Released from captivity on 2/11/2019. Returned to Ke Kai Ola for rehab 2/16/21 due to infected dog bites.
  3. RG58: 97 confirmed sightings. Born 2015 to RH58. Natural bleach above tail, line scar left rear. One of our biggest males.
  4. TempV11: 74 confirmed sightings. Subadult male/ bleached marked Feb. 2022 because too few scars to ID. Became a regular at Poipu in spring 2022. Pit scar mid back, scar left neck.
  5. R371: 70 confirmed sightings. Niihau female w/pup 2017.  Large shark bite right rump and in front right fore flipper, natural bleach mark on top of head, pit scar base of left fore flipper, hook scar left corner of mouth, cookie cutter right shoulder, crescent flap scar belly. Likes to hang out at Mahaulepu and Shipwrecks.
  6. RM36: 68 confirmed sightings. Nice big sub-abult female. Tagged 4/21/2021. Pup of RB00; born 3/15/2020. Cookie cutter scar on right shoulder.
  7. R2XW: 67 confirmed sightings. Very small juvenile female from Niihau. Tagged 4/5/2021 at Glass Beach Eleele. 88 cm auxiliary girth. 
  8. RQ52: 56 confirmed sightings. Born to R400 at Polihale on 6/25/2022. Nursed for 38 days. Translocated to safer location after weaning. Eventually, she moved back to the west side.
  9. R7AA: 54 confirmed sightings. New small Niihau female seal to Kauai 6/2017. Monitored for back abscess, caught and treated and tagged 9/2017. Over the years she has demonstrated unique behavior when molting—moves high up the beach at night and onto resort furniture, parking lots and streets, so must be closely monitored.
  10. RM28: 51 confirmed sightings. Born to RK28 in 2020. De-hooked in June 2022. Also involved in displacements at Poipu keiki pool.

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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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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

New:

·       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.

Updates:

·       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

New:

·       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.

Updates:

·       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

Volunteers:

·       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

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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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


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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