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Archive for the ‘RN02’ Category

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 180 seal sightings this month. This included 32 individually identified seals.

December: 180
November: 223
October: 258
September: 203
August: 324
July: 239
June: 179
May: 262
April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284

New:

  • Subadult female R7AA was sighted with a medium sized circle hook in her left cheek. The Kauai team responded and were able to capture her on the beach and remove the hook without complications. A 2-foot heavy gauge monofilament leader and pigtail swivel was attached to the hook which presented a serious entanglement and drowning hazard. The seal was immediately released and has been sighted since with no signs of infection.
  • An untagged adult female that has not been sighted on Kauai previously hauled out at Poipu and has since become a somewhat regular seal on the south shore. This seal was previously sighted on Niihau in 2017 with a pup and has an ID of R371. She has numerous scars and can be easily identified, even without flipper tags.
  • Another untagged Niihau adult female was sighted for the first time on Kauai’s north shore. Her ID is R367.
  • Another untagged likely Niihau seal molted at a remote east side beach. He is a new seal to Kauai and has a temp ID of Temp361.
  • Yearling RL58 observed with a large fresh cookie cutter shark bite very close to the genital slit. The seal was closely monitored for possible infection, and the seal has quickly recovered.
  • A volunteer observed a tourist attempt to pet the large adult female RK90 at a west side beach. The seal responded by leaving the beach. Outreach was conducted by the volunteer.

Updates:

  • RH38, the seal rehabbed at KKO and released in July, continues to thrive on north shore. Her tracking tag remains attached, however the battery has died so no further data is being transmitted.
  • All of the 6 pups born this year have been sighted recently and continue to thrive.
  • Displacements: No displacements this month.
  • Molting: Adult male RN02 spent 3 weeks at the busy Poipu Beach in pre-molt, molt, and post-molt which required extensive volunteer coverage. One other seal molted this month in less busy areas.
  • Vaccinations: A booster morbillivirus vaccine was given to new juvenile seal R1NI.
  • Bleach marking: none 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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A couple weeks ago, we shared the antics of RN02. Well, he’s not the only Hawaiian monk seal who logs unusual behaviors in the NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal database. The subadult female known as R7AA has her own share of interesting notations.

Most recently, at 7:00 a.m. on Dec 6, a report was received on the hotline of a seal resting on the beach at Kiahuna Point, Poipu. One of our lead volunteers responded and found subadult female R7AA sleeping on sand with a medium sized circle hook in her left cheek and two feet of trailing monofilament.

IMG_0868Our DLNR and NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal coordinators and several volunteers trained in capture techniques assembled on scene by 8:15 a.m. R7AA was sleeping on sand at the top of the beach next to naupaka vegetation. She was in good body condition; however, the hook tip was visibly protruding through the left cheek from inside the mouth. A minor infection was noted with some blood staining, but no swelling.

The team captured the seal (with approval from NOAA). A vise-grip pliers was used to hold the hook’s shank and push the hook’s tip through her cheek. The hook’s barbed tip was then cut off with a small bolt cutter, and the hook was easily reversed out of the mouth. A foul odor was detected along with blood staining on the fur below the mouth, and fresh blood flowed from the wound while removing the hook. 

_MG_8005R7AA was immediately released and headed for the waterline. After 10 minutes, she moved back up the beach and spent the remainder of the day hauled-out in the same location.

Here’s a photo of the fishing gear that was removed from R7AA’s mouth. This contraption is used in slide bait fishing, often to catch giant trevally, known as ulua. (This is when we encourage fishers to use barbless fishing hooks. Also, if they realize they’ve hooked a seal, to report it to the Hawaiian monk seal hotline, no questions asked, at 808-651-7668.)

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Here’s the capture team. They look so mild-mannered for monk seal heroes.

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When R7AA was re-sighted yesterday, there was no visible wound, illustrating once again how the skin and blubber of Hawaiian monk seals have a great ability to heal.

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While this was R7AA’s most recent incident. It certainly wasn’t her first. In fact, she was likely hooked before, and for a time, she sported a dive tag on her back. However, she has an unfortunate knack to haul out in unusual–and sometimes dangerous–places on the south shore. And she tends to do so around dark, as if she’s planning to settle in for the night. Not a good idea when she’s snuggling next to a car tire, on a road, or stretched across a sidewalk. One night she was all the way up by the ancient Hawaiian cemetery at Poipu Beach Park, that’s a good 100 feet from the water across about 50 feet of grass lawn.

The key is to head her off before she makes a risky journey.

So, with approval and training from NOAA, R7AA has been displaced away from roads, parking lots, and sidewalks a total of eight times. She’s been displaced out of the Poipu keiki pool twice. She is also one of the few seals to be displaced independently by trained volunteers who were authorized to encourage her to move out of harm’s way quickly, rather than wait for staff to arrive. Mahalo to our well trained and dedicated volunteers who have the experience and knowledge of how to safely move a large wild animal off a road and back into normal habitat.

Here’s a look at some of R7AA’s unusual choices for sleeping locations.

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This last photo is included for its sheer oddity. It’s the remains of 30 small eels that she barfed up one day.

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Field Report: November 2019

Monthly Update: The Kauai team logged 223 seal sightings this month. This included 31 individually identified seals.

November: 223
October: 258
September: 203
August: 324
July: 239
June: 179
May: 262
April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284

Updates:

  • PK6 was born at a remote beach along Napali Coast in September to R400. He was flipper-tagged on Nov 11. The male pup was large and healthy and now has a permanent ID of RL40.
  • RH38, the seal rehabbed at Ke Kai Ola and released in July, continues to thrive. Her tracking tag remains attached, however the battery has died so no further data is being transmitted.
  • All of the 6 pups born this year have been sighted recently and continue to thrive.
  • Displacements: Adult male RF28 was displaced from the keiki pool beach. That was his first displacement from the keiki pool.
  • Molting: Adult male RN02 spent 3 weeks at the busy Poipu Beach in pre-molt, molt, and post-molt which required extensive volunteer coverage. One other seal molted this month in less busy areas.
  • Vaccinations: Initial morbillivirus vaccine given to new juvenile seal R1NI.
  • Bleach marking: none this month.

Research/Support of Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center:

  • 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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Some seals go about seal life quietly, silently slipping out of the sea and galumphing up the beach at such remote sites that few humans ever lay eyes on them.

Then, there’s RN02. He tends to haul out at beaches heavily populated with humans, and when he does, he announces his arrival. Loudly. It’s like he’s charging down a football field and providing his own play-by-play at the same time. No color commentator or sportscaster necessary.

In November, RN02’s behavior was no different when it came time for his annual molt. He chose a busy south shore beach, and he made sure everyone knew he was there—barking at humans, other seals, and even turtles who got too close.

Hawaiian monk seals spend about two-thirds of their life in water. They spend so much time in water that algae often grows on their fur. About once a year, Hawaiian monk seals undergo a “catastrophic molt” in which they shed the top layer of their skin and fur. They can go from looking green and dirty too sleek and shiny in about a week to 10 days, rarely leaving the beach to forage. Basically, they set up camp.

RN02 arrived on October 28th, looking dirty and chomping on what might have been his last major meal for a few weeks—an octopus.

The first week he spent on the beach, he showed signs of illness—sneezy, running eyes, diarrhea. Diarrhea that was, by the way, red in color, likely the result of some crustaceans or other yummy fish he’d recently eaten. Maybe the octopus. But he also showed signs of “pre-molt” behavior.

Then, on November 7th, volunteers confirmed RN02 was, indeed, beginning to molt.

RN02 first started making a splash in 2013 on Hawaii Island where he was born. There are few Hawaiian monk seals found on Hawaii Island. As we witness on Kauai, after weaning, many young seals tend to hang out together, tumbling along the shoreline and interacting in a manner we humans might consider as rough. For RN02, there were no other young seals around Hawaii Island after his mother weaned him.

So, it wasn’t long before RN02 was repeatedly reported to be roughhousing in the water with humans—and it wasn’t appreciated by the humans. It was dangerous. Before he could injure seriously someone, RN02 was translocated to Niihau.

Within a couple years, RN02 turned up on Kauai and has turned into a regular south shore seal. At first, he was people curious, pursuing swimmers and following people up the beach. He hauled out on a boat ramp, undeterred by the steams of snorkelers and divers walking past him to enter and exit the water.

On several occasions, RN02 was intentionally displaced (by trained staff) when he was found hauled out in disconcerting locations like this and others.

Once, he was sighted with marine debris entangled around his neck. However, he was able to escape its trap on his own.

In February 2017, RN02 was reported to have blood near his mouth. That turned out to be a small fish hook with about six inches of monofilament fishing line along his gum. Eventually, the hook and line fell out on its own.

Eventually, RN02’s interest in humans abated. Now, he runs with a few other adolescent males, sometimes causing the same ruckus in near-shore waters that he generated on Hawaii Island. Only this time, he’s rough-housing with other mammals more closely related to him.

RN02 completed his molt on November 14th. Throughout, his antics can be summed up by this one report from one volunteer: “Still cranky and vocalizing a lot at folks who are not remotely close to him—all over the beach, up to bushes, down to the water with sideways in between for some variety.”

RN02 now has his shiny new coat; however, that’s not stopped notorious ways. On November 29th, he was hauled out and sleeping when an umbrella got away from a beachgoer, blowing down the beach and hitting RN02. He didn’t like that too much. He flushed for the water and hauled out elsewhere.

There’s no doubt RN02 will continue to generate stories—and we hope for a good, long time to come.

Here are some photos of one of the more interesting monk seal molts of 2019.

Pre-molt Thompkins

Pre-Molt. PC: Thomton.

Molt 1109 honnert

November 9th. PC: Honnert.

1110 Meggannoll

November 10th. PC: Megonnell.

1111 honnert

November 11th. PC: Honnert.

1112 Honnert

November 12th. PC: Honnert.

1112 Honnert 2

November 12th. PC: Honnert.

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November 13th. PC: Megonnell.

1113 Megonnell

November 13th. PC: Megonnell.

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Field Report: June

The Kauai team logged 179 seal sightings this month (262 in May, 348 in April, 350 in March, 303 in Feb). This included 32 individually identified seals.

June: 179
May: 262
April: 348
March: 350
Feb: 303
Jan: 284

New:

  • Two male seals, RG22 and R3CX. were displaced from Poipu. (This is always done by trained personnel.)
  • Two adult seals, male RN02 and female R1KY were displaced off a beach road at the end of the Burns Field runway at Salt Pond Beach Park. Lifeguards assisted by closing the road until displacement occurred. (Again, this is only conducted with prior approval and by trained personnel.)

Updates:

  • Discussions and plans were set in place this month for the return and release of RH38 in July.
  • 2019 pups RL08 and RL52 continue to thrive at various north shore beaches.
  • Displacements: 6 displacements occurred this month. Two of these displacements were from the keiki pool, subadult male R3CX, which was his 4thdisplacement, and subadult female R7AA, which was her second displacement.
  • Molting: no seals were observed molting this month.
  • Vaccinations: Pup RL52 was given a booster vaccination this month.

Research/Support of Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (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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Sightings:

The Kauai team logged 259 seal sightings this month. This included 32 individually identified seals.

Feb: 259
Jan: 336
Dec: 270
Nov: 239
Oct: 225
Sep: 354

New Issues:

  • RK90 returned after 6 week absence. Was large and pregnant on 12/28/17 and then sighted on 2/17/18 thin. Likely pupped on Niihau. This would be her first pupping.

Updates on previously reported issues:

  • NG00 is likely still hooked and was not sighted this month. NG00 was observed with a circle hook in lower right lip. Sighted on Niihau in January. Photos match pictures sent in by fisherman along Kaumakani in September of a hooked seal. Seal in good condition, hook not life threatening, will attempt to de-hook next time hauled out on sand.
  • Poipu Keiki Pool: 6 displacements took place this month. Listed below are which seals and how many total times they have been displaced from the keiki pool. Please remember displacements require skilled training and, as always, prior approval from NOAA. Please never attempt this on your own. But please do call the hotline (808-651-7668) when/if you find a monk seal in the Poipu Keiki Pool.
    • RN02 – 3rd displacement
    • RG58 – 1st and 2nd displacement both this month
    • R339 – 4th displacement
    • RV18 – 1st displacement
    • RK90 – 3rd displacement
  • Morbillivirus vaccinations: All vaccines on Kauai have expired. No further vaccinations will occur for the time being.
  • Bleach markings: 2 seals bleach marked this month.
  • Molting activity: 1 seal molted this month.

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Busy Month De-hooking Seals.

Juvenile male seal RG22 was found with a small hook again on May 1. A team was quickly assembled to capture and attempt hook removal. The original small J hook was no longer visible, however a rusty medium sized circle hook was incidentally found wedged inside the left lower jaw, which required sedation for removal. RG22 was transported to the DLNR base yard and held overnight to await arrival of an Oahu veterinary team to assist. He was sedated and the rusty hook was removed. Radiographs revealed that the smaller hook and was no longer present.

RG22 hook(ValBloy)3

PC: V. Bloy.

On May 11, hooked adult female RK90 was found with large male, R336 at Ahukini Cove. Due to her large size, a skilled NOAA seal handler from Oahu joined the Kauai team. The team isolated and captured RK90 with crowding boards, removed the large circle hook and immediately released her to re-join R336.

RICOH IMAGING

PC: M. Miyashiro.

 

Seals of Concern Updates.

ThreeSealsandHonu,20170422(LynnNowatzki)

Photo credit: L. Nowatzki.

Subadult male, RN02, continues to interact with people in the water, but the level of interaction seems to have decreased somewhat in May. Fortunately we are seeing that he socializes with seals extensively (and the odd turtle!). He has not made contact with people yet. This is a good reminder to remember NOT to engage with monk seals in the water.

RH92, juvenile female, translocated to the West Side, returned to Lihi canal within two weeks, however we are pleased to report that she is foraging in a wider range along the east coast and spending less time in the canal where fish scrap dumping appears to have decreased due to increased outreach and law enforcement patrols.

 

Seals Heal in Amazing Ways!

20170426,Fuji,RK13(Miyashiro)

Photo credit: M. Miyashiro.

Adult female, RK13 was found on April 26 with a large wound to her face, with tears to the skin around her nose, leaving her left nostril (nare) no longer visible. Close inspection revealed a series of triangular cuts, indicating a shark bite. Seal wounds close up and fill in by a process called tissue granulation. We expected RK13 to have extensive scarring and possibly the loss of a nare. Amazingly one month later, her face was completely healed with only a few small scars and both nares patent and normal! Our NOAA veterinarian was kept informed of the wounds and healing progress to determine if intervention was indicated. Though wildlife wounds often look disturbing, wild animal medicine demonstrates how resilient wild animals are.

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