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Archive for the ‘RO18’ Category

It’s been a busy beginning to 2011 for the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!!  Here’s the latest news for our island’s seals.

RA00, “Kaikoa”, is a juvenile seal who will be two years old this March.  She is looking too thin for her age, and quite green.  The green color in her fur coat is evidence that she has not yet molted.  Hawaiian monk seals molt once per year, shedding their outer layer of fur and skin.  She can be identified with her rear flipper tags, which are red with white letters/numbers A00 (left flipper) and A01 (right flipper), and by her bleach mark, V22.  If you see Kaikoa, please call the Kauai monk seal hotline at 808-651-7668, so we can assess her health further.

RK12 is our six-time mama seal.  She most recently gave birth around Thanksgiving 2009 at Maha’ulepu beach, and was thought to be pregnant again this year.  However, she has now completed her molt!  This indicates that she is not in fact pregnant.  It’s normal for mama seals to take a year off between pups, and RK12 has not taken a break in six years.  Good for her!

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center monk seal research team was working on Kauai for a week this January.  Here are some examples of the great work they did to help us learn about Kauai’s seals:

  • RO18, an adult male with flipper tags 6FA/6FB, was bleached V25 at Kauai Beach Resort, and was spotted on Oahu a couple of days later!
  • Three-year old female seal RB24, “Ha’upu”, received a cell phone tag and her tracks have already started showing up – she went south down the coast, and was seen a couple of days later in Kapa’a.
  • R6FM is the new permanent ID for an unknown juvenile female found at North Larsen’s beach; the PIFSC team gave her flipper-tags 6FM/6FN.
  • Adult female RK13 (tags 5AA/ 5AB) has a new V21 bleach mark, and adult male RK05 (tags 4DA/4DB) has a new V30 bleach mark.  Juvenile female RW06 was given a new V8 bleach mark.
  • R6FQ is the new permanent ID for the little unknown juvenile male bleached 
”V16″ earlier this month.

Thanks to PIFSC and all of our volunteers for their hard work for Kauai’s seals!!

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RT12 has his Hawaiian name!  He is Kimo Kai, or “Sleepy Ocean”, named by (and after) vacationing volunteer Jim Maser when RT12 was just a couple of weeks old.   After checking with our Hawaiian cultural practitioners, we have now made it official!

Mahalo-eha (RA36) has been spotted back at his natal beach, Maha’ulepu!

Hawaiian monk seals

Photo credit: Michele Bane

Love is in the air for Kauai’s seals!  We have seen lots of male-female pairs hauled out, entering, and exiting the water together lately.  Some of these included large adult female RK13 with Oahu/Kauai male RO18; scarred female RK30 with our old, dominant male TT40, seven-time mom RK12 with young adult male R4DI, and Oahu male Kermit (RO12) with an unidentified female.   Even little juvenile Kaikoa (RA00) has been seen several times with subadult male RV18, though this pair is too young to mate!

Kermit (RO12), as mentioned above, has returned to Kauai.  But check out what he was doing this summer!!  He had a 2000-mile journey into the pelagic (open-ocean) realm!

Hawaiian monk seal journey

Back on the east shore of Kauai, Kermit lost his cell-phone tag. Thanks to one of our observant and thorough volunteers finding the tag in the sand, we can now learn more about Kermit’s adventure and reuse his tag to track another seal!

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Pup-watch has ended for RT12!  He has still been sighted frequently at Larsen’s beach, but has also left the area for several days at a time.  Keep your eyes peeled for this little roly-poly – he’s still vulnerable to learning the wrong way to coexist with people on the beach!!

The “unidentified” adult male seal fitted with a cell-phone tag last month turns out to be RO18, a known seal who often travels back and forth between Kauai and Oahu.  He went straight back to Oahu after being tagged on Kauai, but returned to Kauai for most of July and spent his time here with adult female RK13.  Previously thought to be pregnant, RK13 is now showing appearance and behavior cues indicating otherwise.

Adult female 5AY, previously expected to pup on Kauai this summer, had a pup on Oahu instead!  We may not have any more Kauai newborns until winter!

Mahalo-eha (RA36) has still been hanging out on the east shore, and one day this month decided to haul out right onto the Fuji Beach boat ramp!  This is not a safe place for a seal to rest!  Mahalo-eha is still in the impressionable life stage during which he could either learn to be a wild seal, or to be a human-friendly seal.   If he learns that it is a positive thing to approach humans, then he will be attracted to his own greatest threats:  boats, propellers, hooks, nets, and people who don’t realize how special monk seals are. Dr. Mimi Olry used special equipment and aversive conditioning techniques to discourage him from resting on the boat ramp, for his and the public’s safety.  Please note that changing the behavior of a Hawaiian monk seal is against state and federal law without the proper permits, which Dr. Olry has.

Pohaku (RO28) has been spending quite a bit of time on the island at Poipu Beach Park – every day for the past 2 weeks!  She may be getting ready to molt, or she may just be repeating her typical behavior of finding and sticking to a favorite resting spot!

The PIFSC monk seal research team visited Kauai this month, hoping to fit more seals with cell-phone tags to study their movements and dive behavior.  The criteria for this procedure are pretty strict:  the seal must be hauled out in a sandy spot safe for restraint. It must be restrained during the cooler parts of the day.   The seal cannot be too young, too small, pregnant, nursing, molting, near-molting, or otherwise already stressed.  These criteria are all for the seals’ health and safety.  Our team encountered quite a few seals on this trip, but unfortunately only one fit all the criteria: adult male RK02.  Even more unfortunately for the team, RK02 is a clever seal who eluded the researchers not once but TWICE!  He made a run for the water both times.   Better luck next time, PIFSC!

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