Rescued Adult Female Seal Survives to Have the First Pup of 2014

April 28, 2014

The 2014 pupping season is underway, with at least seven pups born; four in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and three more (excluding 1 aborted fetus) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). In the MHI, two pups each were born on Oʻahu and Molokaʻi. The first pup was born on Oʻahu in early January and is now weaned, fat, and healthy. This pup's birth is especially noteworthy because her mother, R5AY or "Honey Girl", was found in November 2012, extremely emaciated with a fishhook in her tongue. R5AY would have likely died without the efforts of many community members and organizations. She was brought into the Waikiki Aquarium, underwent surgery to remove the hook and most of her tongue, and was subsequently released back into the wild. Her continued progress was monitored with the help of volunteers until it was clear that she was well recovered and even possibly pregnant!

Mother with newborn pup.
Mother with newborn pup.

In the NWHI, three pups have been reported by State of Hawaiʻi DLNR researchers at Kure Atoll. The first pup, born in February, has weaned, one is nursing, and sadly a third newborn was found dead. Although we only know of seven pups, there are likely other births that we have not heard about or discovered, possibly in the MHI, and almost certainly in the NWHI. Only Kure Atoll has year-round seal monitoring effort (conducted by DLNR personnel when NMFS teams are not present). None of the other NWHI sites have been visited yet this year, and seal field teams are scheduled to deploy this summer.