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Archive for the ‘V28’ Category

Field Notes: March 2011

Happy Spring, from the Kauai Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui!

Out in the field this month, we’ve been watching out for our newest addition, Temp V15.  She is a juvenile female who was first seen on Kauai at the end of February.  She can be identified by her small size and her bleach mark, “V15”.  She was seen frequently at Mahau’lepu throughout March and observed for remarkable weight loss.  She has not been sighted since March 23, so she is a seal of concern. If you see her, please call our hotline at 651-7668, and take lots of pictures!

We continue to keep a close eye on our oldest male, TT40.  He can be identified by his flipper tags, which read 5AH (right flipper) and 2AQ (left flipper).  He has been slowly molting throughout March.  Instead of exhibiting the typical behavior of hauling out for 5-7 consecutive days to complete his molt, TT40 has been moving regularly between Shipwrecks and Salt Ponds beaches while molting.

RK14. (Photo credit: Sterling.)

New and unusual observations for this month include the resighting of a seal not seen since 2006!  RK14 is an adult female that regularly hauls out on the north shore, particularly at the rocky inaccessible cove of Kilauea Point.  She is unusual because she only has three teats, instead of the regular four (thus she was once called “triple nipple”)!  RK14 also has a bleach mark on her head and a black scar on the left side of her face.

For a funny story, we received a late call from the police department when visitors came home to their vacation rental at Lawai Road and found a seal in their swimming pool!  Fortunately for R6FQ, it was an easy exit over surrounding lava rocks from the salt water pool.  This little juvenile seal who found “a super-sized tide pool” was abruptly scared away by the alarmed visitors!

Another Lawai sighting for many days was RK12, affectionately known as “Maha’ulepu mom,” who often hauls out on the small beach there.  This month, though, she was reported and observed by many floating or resting for long hours in the shallow waters off shore.  She was checked as best as possible for wounds, but nothing was found, and after five days of this behavior, she left on the 29th.  Please keep an eye out for her, as she has not been resighted and we are still concerned about her condition, since this extended “logging” behavior is unusual.

V28. (Photo credit: Langley)

We are sorry to report that we lost our aging male seal Temp V28 this month.  When seals pass away, it makes for some of our most difficult workdays here for  the Hui.  However, these are usually also incredible learning experiences.  Such is the case with Temp V28.  He first appeared on Kauai last summer, exhibiting a nonfunctional eye and other signs of age, but excellent body condition (weight.)  He continued to look healthy throughout winter, but suffered a neck injury that coincided with his yearly molt at the end of February this year.  He rapidly lost weight, and was closely monitored by our Kauai team and our regional veterinary and science teams.  He seemed to improve for a few days, but unfortunately died on March 25.   Veterinarians and scientists immediately came together to conduct a necropsy, which is an exam designed to learn as much as possible from an animal’s death.   We found many signs of age in Temp V28, and we also found some identifying marks!  Using x-rays, we located a pit tag (microchip), which had been implanted in Temp V28’s pelvic region.  We also noted scars on the webbing of his rear flippers that indicate he once had flipper tags!   Scanning the pit tag, we were able to identify this seal as TK49, a 26-year old seal from Laysan, one of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands!   He was last identified in 1994 on the Big Island!   Temp V28 (or TK49) was a very interesting seal; he hauled out in unusual locations around the island, and allowed for education and outreach to a number of local communities who don’t see seals very often!

K30. (Photo credit: Lee)

Keeping the circle of life going are our pregnant female seals.  RK30, R316, and RK22 are all looking quite pregnant – hopefully we have healthy pups in our near future!  Pup events are a great time to learn about seals and get started as a volunteer.  If you are interested in pup-sitting, or volunteering with us in general, see our “Volunteer” tab for more information.

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Field Notes: Sept/Oct 2010

We need your help!  RK22, an adult female seal who has abandoned at least two of her pups in the past (2007 and 2008), has been sighted several times at North Larsen’s beach.  She has flipper tags 6FD/6FH.  It is important for us all to keep a close watch for her, and to photograph her as often as she is sighted.  This will help us determine whether she is pregnant, and help us formulate a plan in the case that she abandons future pup.  In both 2009 and 2010, RK22 disappeared toward the end of her apparent pregnancies, and reappeared 6-8 weeks later, no longer pregnant.  There are several possibilities here: she may be pupping and nursing successfully, she may be losing the pup(s) before or after their birth, she may be abandoning them.  In order for us to learn more about RK22 and ensure the safety of her future pups, we need to keep a close eye on her.   To learn more about RK22’s pup, Ho’ailona (KP2), go here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/kp2.htm

Speaking of mama seals, Kauai’s seven-time mom RK12 is looking quite pregnant.  Our observations indicate that she will likely have her next pup in December 2010!  Her last pup (Mahalo’eha, RA36) was born the day after Thanksgiving Day 2009 at Maha’ulepu.

Photo by Michele Bane, RK12 at Lawai Beach on 10/16/2010

Pohaku (RO28), our young adult female seal who was de-hooked on Good Friday 2010 and frequents Poipu and Larsen’s beaches, has flown the coop!  She was spotted on Oahu at Kaena Point just in time for the Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count!  She has been re-sighted twice, and aside from a new cookiecutter shark bite on her back, she looks great!

The adult male seal with the bleach mark V28 has been sighted on the east shore several times recently.  Our PIFSC research team first sighted him earlier this year, when he turned out to be a less-than-ideal candidate for a cell phone tracking tag.  His body condition looks good, but his behavior and appearance were slightly abnormal.  In particular, his eyes were of concern.  If you see V28, please report him to the Monk Seal Hotline (651-7668), and take photos from a distance of his eyes if possible.

Our Semi-Annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count on October 16th went very well, with all zones covered by dedicated volunteers!!  We counted 12 seals on Kauai, and the other islands’ counts went as follows:  Oahu – 12, Kaho’olawe – 3, Molokai – 4, Lani – 1, Maui – 1, Big Island – 1, Ni’ihau – 47!  Please keep in mind that this count is not our most scientific approach to population assessment, as a good number of seals were likely in the water during the count.  It is, however, a great way to build community awareness of our critically endangered seals!

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