Archive for the ‘V23’ Category

Hawaiian monk seal RK13

Photo credit: Michele Bane

We have had several reports of seals swimming up into canals on the east shore over the past few weeks.  In particular, RK13 has been observed “logging” 
(resting at the surface of the water) in a canal near the Kapa’a Library.  Both 
freshwater activity (and the health hazards presented therein) and logging 
are behaviors of concern for Hawaiian monk seals.  Please be sure to report 
both immediately, so that our staff can respond and observe the behavior(s) 
in person.

RK13 is of special concern, and we are monitoring her very closely.  She 
has two new injuries (first observed 12/7), consistent with shark bites.  One is near her left 
foreflipper, which she did not appear to be using for the first couple of weeks.  The other is on the underside of her 
right side.   Neither wound is life-threatening, they are not very deep, 
and both are showing quite a bit of healing progress.   She began hauling out on sand again in Kapaa town on 
12/11, but has also continued to visit canals.  She rests peacefully in the Kapaa Library canal, but had a rough day in the canal near the Bull Shed 
restaurant on 12/13.  The canal was a couple of feet deep when she entered 
it early in the day, but by afternoon it was down to a few inches of water. 
RK13 galumphed all the way up the canal behind the Safeway shopping center, 
and struggled to get out of the sludgy mud.  It was awful to watch, but 
handling her would have been more stressful and likely less successful than 
letting her work her way through.  She did figure it out, and worked her way slowly (lots of rest breaks!) back to the ocean.  Since then, she has 
hauled out on sand in Kapaa, Anahola and Moloaa, and also spent a few 
more days in the Kapaa Library Canal.  She is using her left foreflipper normally 
again, starting on Christmas Eve!  Thanks for that holiday gift, RK13!

RK30 (adult female, entanglement scar around neck and large scar on side), 
interestingly enough, was observed in two different Kapaa canals on 
12/29.  Careful 
not to get these two ladies confused!

Hawaiian monk seal RK56

Photo credit: Michele Bane

Another two seals who have flipped the switch on us are RK56 (weaner male, exhibiting curiosity toward humans in November) and RK52 (weaner female, 
born at Larsen’s, April 2011)!  RK56 was most recently seen today at Nukoli’i on the east shore, and RK52 has been observed twice in 
Hanalei.  Careful not to assume identity on these little seals – they’re on the move!  RK52 
has been hauling up very high and looking for trouble; last week she hauled out under a plastic chair, and the next day under a wire fence!  Thankfully, 
she was not entangled.

RB24 (subadult female who lost weight earlier this year) continues to look improved!  Her body condition is back to normal.

R313 (adult female, formerly Temp V23) received a new “V23” bleach mark 
while PIFSC’s Mark Sullivan was on island visiting.  Thanks, Mark!   R313 has been observed from Larsen’s to Ke’e.

At sunset on Christmas Eve, we received a report of a seal entangled in a net in the rocks behind the Beach House restaurant in Lawai.   The entanglement
turned out to be a false alarm; the juvenile tagged seal was just investigating the lay-gillnet in the water.   DoCARE reports that any net is illegal if it is either (1) left unattended, or (2) still set after sunset.  This net was both, so law enforcement is working to identify the net and remove it.

On 12/28, at sunset again, we had another report of a lay-gillnet set about 50 yards down the beach from a hauled-out seal, this time at Ke’e 
Beach.  One of our volunteers was present and spoke with the fishers, but they left the net in place.  Luckily, R313 (adult female bleached V23) did not get entangled. 
We saw her hauled out nearby the next day.

Hawaiian monk seal A20

Photo credit: M. Miyashiro

RA20 (juvenile female born at Larsen’s in 2009, a.k.a. “Momona”, rarely 
seen) has been observed on the south and east shores recently!  She is 
clearly not accustomed to being near humans; she is very sensitive, and was disturbed off of the Courtyard Marriott beach twice yesterday by beachgoers walking past her too closely.

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Field Notes: Nov/Dec 2010

Happy New Year from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!!  It’s been a busy time of year for us and the seals!

R6FY, a juvenile male first sighted in July 2010, was seen several times in November around PMRF.  He looks thin and close to molting – very green.  When Hawaiian monk seals molt, they lose their entire outer layer of skin and fur.  Scientists have found that the seals also have elevated levels of stress hormones during this once-a-year event.  He was observed several times 
to be exhibiting an interesting behavior – kind of a repeated “swallowing” 
as he fell asleep after stirring.  R6FY does not seem to be in distress, nor does he appear to have any obstructions to eating or breathing.  We are not alarmed about this little guy, but are certainly keeping close eye on him.  If you see him, please photograph him; take a good look at his body for molting, which usually starts around the face and other extremities; and report him to us immediately.

We had several sightings this fall of a large untagged female seal on the north shore, with bleach mark V23.  Bleach marks are applied to the fur of Hawaiian monk seals so that we can identify them from a distance.  The mark is made with the same kind of hair bleach we humans use, and we are specially trained and permitted to apply the bleach without even waking up the seal!  She has had this bleach number for the past year, and since she molted, Mimi re-applied it in November.  V23 did roll onto her fresh bleach, but her mark seems to have stuck, as she was sighted recently as “V23.”

Our youngest seals, RT12 and RA36, have been seen quite frequently at Larsen’s and Aliomanu beaches, respectively.   We have even had a couple of sightings of an untagged male weaned pup on the 
east side in the past couple of months.  We suspect that this is RK30’s latest Miloli’i pup, born on April 17, 2010, but since we were never able to flipper-tag him, we can’t be sure.  Mimi was able to bleach him in December – now he
is V014!  All are looking very healthy.

Still no new pup!  In mid-December, after getting a good look at expectant mom RK12 in person, we predict that she will not likely give birth until January. Nonetheless, we have had the “maternity truck” packed and ready to go for over a week, and we’ve been keeping an eye on RK12’s usual birth sites.

As a holiday gift to everyone from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s Monk Seal Research Program, here is some of the exciting information we are learning from the cell phone tags applied to four seals in 2010!  These tags are helping us understand how the seals in the main Hawaiian islands use their habitat.  Enjoy!

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