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Kalaupapa’s First Seal Pup of Season

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Kalaupapa welcomed its first Hawaiian monk seal pup born this season earlier this month. The baby was born to first-time mom RG18, herself born in Kalaupapa in 2015.

The Kalaupapa National Historical Park shared the news on their Facebook page, reminding the community to give new moms and pups plenty of extra space, with no swimming advised if they’re present on the beach.

Kalaupapa’s quiet coastline is a popular spot for monk seals to give birth each year, usually beginning in late March or early April. Pups are born with black fur and their coats later change to dark gray or brown.

Earlier in the year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said two month seals were found dead on Molokai. Both carcasses were decomposed when they were found, leading to no conclusions on how their died. One was discovered near La’au Point on Jan. 29, and after examination by officials, it was “respectfully buried” near where it was found, according to NOAA. The second dead adult monk seal was reported on Feb. 2 along the island’s south shore.

“Heavy rain and difficult terrain prevented safe access to the carcass, so retrieving or burying the carcass was not possible,” stated NOAA. “The remains were left in place to decompose naturally. Hawaiian cultural protocols were performed by a member of the community.”

Anyone with information about these or any seal deaths is asked to call the NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline at (888) 256-9840.

Hawaiian monk seals are highly endangered, with a total population estimated around 1,400 seals. About 1,100 seals live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and 300 seals call the main Hawaiian Islands home. Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawaii, occurring no where else in the world.

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