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Posts Tagged ‘hawaiian monk seals’

PK1 is a boy! (That makes two for this year.) And he’s discovered his flippers, biting at them, flapping them, generally figuring out what they can do.

201706013 PK1 Discovers Flipper

PC: K. Rogers

RK22 continues to be a very protective mother, however she is now more comfortable being physically separated from her pup at times. On PK1’s 17th day of life, mom was observed logging in the water 50 feet away from PK1, while he was sound asleep on the beach. She was still keeping a close eye on him though. Also, several snorkelers reported being charged by RK22 while they were entering the water to swim. We do not advise swimming at any beach with a mom and pup pair present.

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PC: J. Thomton

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What’s better than one pup? It’s two! The day after RK22 gave birth, another reliable mother, RK30 also pupped. This one, we know, is a male. Here are a few pictures of the one-week-old pup, known as PK2.

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RH92 (formerly known as PK2) has been busy. She now has a bleach mark of V92 that will make identifying her from a distance much easier. She’s also beginning to travel up and down the coast, going several miles one direction and equally far in the other direction. This makes her much harder for our volunteers to find! She’s been observed flipping rocks and checking things out just like a wild seal should. She’s also been observed with sea cucumber slime on her face. Not something that likely will continue as she discovers more deletable tidbits from the sea!

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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Photo credit: G. Langley

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On day two of PK2’s life, the busy young seal was observed galumphing around its mother and nursing seven times throughout the day. Two males cruised by the pupping site but did not disturb mother (RK22) and pup.

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Photo credit: G. Langley.

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Photo credit: G. Langley.

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On Monday, May 23, 2016, the monk seal known as RK22 arrived at the beach and hauled her heavy body out of the surf. Less than two hours later, she gave birth to a healthy pup, known for now as PK2.

Here’s an article in The Garden Island about the pup’s birth, witnessed by our volunteer Gary Langley.

Keep checking back here as we post regular updates on this pup’s first few weeks of life.

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The moment of birth. Photo credit: G. Langley.

 

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Day one. Photo credit G. Langley.

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Pup-date! As you know from previous postings, four Hawaiian monk seal pups were born on Kauai in 2015. Here is a synopsis of where they are today and how they are doing.

hawaiian monk seal pup on kauai

Photo credit: G. Langley

The oldest pup, RG13, is now 7 months old and has become a somewhat elusive north shore seal with sightings ranging from Papa’a to Ha’ena. A snorkeler saw her underwater at Tunnels last month looking healthy, normal, and most importantly behaving like a wild seal that made no attempt to interact with the swimmer (and vice versa!).

Entangled seal

The next pup, RG22, is now 6 months old and has moved to the south shore where he was sighted last month wearing (entangled) someone’s swim goggles! They fell off within a couple of days and caused no harm. Since then he has been sighted routinely hauling-out along the rocks in the Makahuena Point area.

Photo credit: J. Thomton

Photo credit: J. Thomton

The third pup, RG28, has not been sighted for several months, however this is not uncommon as these young seals often tuck into quiet rocky locations and are not sighted very often. For example, another young Kauai seal, RN30, was born in 2013 and completely fell off our radar for 16 months (between May 8, 2014 until September 27, 2015) but has now been sighted weekly looking extremely healthy. We hope the same is true for RG28.

hawaiian monk seal pup on kauai

Photo credit: G. Langley

The youngest pup, RG58, is still only 4 months old and is sticking closely to his birth beach on the north shore. He was a really big pup measuring almost as big around as he is was long, like a beach ball with flippers. This thick layer of blubber gives a naive pup a great energetic advantage while learning to forage and fend for itself during the critical time after weaning from their moms. As you can see from this recent photo, he continues to maintain a healthy body condition. You know what they say about marine mammals…blubber is beautiful!

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Hooked Seals

hawaiian monk seal with fish hook in its mouthBack in April of this year, a juvenile male, new to Kauai, showed up on the Kapaa shoreline and was tagged by our Kauai team as R1KD (1KD in left rear flipper, 1KG in the right rear flipper). The very next day he was found with a circle hook embedded in his left cheek. We spent the next week searching for this seal and finally were able to cut the line attached to the hook. We were unable to get a capture crew there quickly enough to remove the hook. Over the next 4 months, this seal was spotted occasionally on the remote Na Pali coastline looking healthy and strong, but still hooked. Last week we sent a team via boat to the Na Pali coast specifically to scout for this seal, but we were unfortunately unsuccessful. The fact that his body condition has been reported as good indicates that the hook is not affecting his ability to forage. Seals can typically shed hooks themselves, however 4 months is a bit longer than most so we remain on alert. If you see this seal please call the Kauai hotline at 808-651-7668.
hawaiian monk seal with fish hook in its mouth

Photo credit: D. Lee

Another small seal, N1AA, was tagged on Niihau in 2014 and bears the first black tag specific for Niihau seals. He has been sighted at various locations on Kauai over the past year including the west side where he hauled out with a hook protruding from his muzzle in July. We were able to quickly deploy a de-hooking team, and to easily remove the hook. Most hooks we encounter are barbed, so the technique we use is to cut the hook in half and remove the two halves rather than attempt to back the barb out in reverse. In this case, the hook was barbed originally, but had corroded away and made the de-hooking process very fast and painless for the seal. If you fish, please consider using barbless hooks and encourage others to do the same.
removing hook from hawaiian monk seal's mouth

Photo credit: D. Lee

The 2015 pupping season has concluded (we’ve been surprised by new unknown pregnant seals in the past though!) and we are pleased to report that all four seals have weaned and are doing extremely well. Here’s the recap:
Mom ID Pup ID Birth Date `Bleach # # Nursing Days Pup Sex
RK13 RG13 4/15/2015 V13 43 Female
RK22 RG22 5/15/2015 V22 34 Male
RO28 RG28 5/26/2015 V29 42 Male
RH58 RG58 7/13/2015 V58 43 Male

 

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