NOAA Fisheries and Agency Partners Work Together to Rehabilitate Abandoned Monk Seal Pup

NOAA Fisheries is partnering with other marine mammal specialists and expert care givers to ensure the health and survival of a valuable Hawaiian monk seal pup. The newborn seal was abandoned by its mother on a Kauai beach and recently rescued by staff of NOAA Fisheries and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The pup faced death if left in the wild. Survival of monk seal pups is crucial to the recovery of this highly endangered species.

Flown from Kauai to Oahu by our partners in the U.S. Coast Guard and installed in the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Captive Care Facility, the pup is receiving regular attention from Center scientists directed by PIFSC Monk Seal Research Program leader Charles Littnan and a cadre of renowned experts in marine mammal rehabilitation from the Marine Mammal Center (TMMC, headquartered in Sausalito, CA).

Dr. Littnan summed up the challenges ahead for the rehabilitation team: "We've never dealt with a seal this young before and are guardedly optimistic because dealing with a neonate (newborn) is tricky business. The animal will be stressed and susceptible to disease, so strict quarantine measures will be observed."

During the pup's rehabilitation, NOAA Fisheries will issue periodic updates of the pup's status and recap the rehabilitation events and activities. Check back regularly to learn the latest.

Update on KP-2 (abandoned monk seal pup) for Tuesday, June 17
Activity Updates
DateActivity and Status
16 June
It appears the attempt to raise the caloric value in his food has paid off as the pup now weighs in at 55 lbs. (report on 5/29 reported 41 lbs.)
KP2, the temporary id the pup has been given for data recording purposes, continues to appear bright and active and is tolerant of his feeding regimen. He appears to love swimming in the pool and does so several times a day. Another indication that the pup is growing is he has begun to show his first few teeth. This all seems like positive news but we remain cautiously optimistic because KP2 is still not out of the woods. We are however, very pleased with his progress.
29 May
The pup has been given a temporary number of KP2 for data collection purposes. He continues to be active and swims everyday. Although he presently weighs 41 lbs the caloric value in his food has been raised in an attempt to see if he can gain weight more rapidly.
15 May
The pup continues to do well and weighed in at 37lbs! It appears the change in formula has helped to increase his weight. He had an active day yesterday during his morning and afternoon swims and is moving around in his pool. Because he is better hydrated, subcutaneous fluids have been discontinued.
14 May
The pup is feeding well. He was physically active yesterday as he took advantage of opportunities to swim in his pool. He has gained weight and is 35lbs. NOAA Fisheries and Marine Mammal Center staff are hoping the change in formula is responsible for the weight gain and hope it continues. Although things are looking positive, it is still too early... we all remain hopeful.
13 May
The pup remains bright and active. His weight remains constant at 33.5lbs which is unchanged for the last several days. Blood work results look normal. Antibiotics were discontinued.
12 May
The pup was bright and active throughout the weekend and is tolerating the switch in formula well. Although he has not gained weight over the weekend his weight has remained constant at 33lbs. Physically, he looks more hydrated and his general body condition has improved.
9 May
The pup continues to hold his own and weighs in at just under 33.5 lbs. He appears to be well hydrated and remains active. NOAA Fisheries and Marine Mammal Center staff have decided to change the formula that he is being fed to see if it would accelerate his weight gain.
8 May
Pup remains bright and alert. He's tolerating tube feeding well and has gained a half pound, now weighing in at 33 lbs. Preliminary results of the pup's blood work look normal. Dr. Littnan of PIFSC reports that "Although things are going as well as we could hope, we still have a ways to go before we can breathe easier."
7 May
Pup appears well and active. Improved hydration. Beginning to show signs of slight weight gain. Caregivers are on site from 7am to 1am. Animal care staff, mostly from the MMC, take turns manning the care shifts. Caregivers do not interact with pup except when necessary, but are present at the care facility and alert to the pup's condition. Human contact is kept to a minimum. Five times per day, the pup is fed formula used successfully by MMC with newborn harbor seals. Three times per day the water level in the pup's pool is increased a few inches, giving him more room to "swim and play" so he can get physical exercise and thermo-regulate his body temperature.
6 May
As of 8am feeding, pup is stable, eating well, maintaining body weight. He's moving around and pooping a lot. All of this is good news. NOAA Fisheries staff remain guardedly optimistic about the pup's chances for rehabilitation.

NOAA Fisheries appreciates the outpouring of public support we have received for this pup. However, please understand we cannot accommodate public access to the animal as he remains under strict quarantine to limit his exposure to disease and infection.