Baby Boom


Baby boom

The number of monk seals born on Oahu in a year hits a record

Star-Bulletin staff

Two monk seals were born this week on Oahu, delivering a new record — three — for seals born within a year on the island, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The young seals also raised the total number of pups born in the main Hawaiian Islands since the beginning of the year to 10, compared to seven at this time last year, which saw a total of 13 newborn pups.

“This is going to be a busy pupping season,” said Tracy Wurth, monk seal sighting coordinator for the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region, in a news release. “We are expecting several more births in the coming months as we have already identified several pregnant females out there.”

Endangered monk seals, which have a population estimated at fewer than 1,200, usually give birth between February and July, with a peak between April and June.

Previously, the record for pups born in one year on Oahu was two.

On Wednesday, a seal gave birth to a pup at a North Shore beach and both appeared to be behaving normally. The pup’s sex has not been determined yet, the release said.

Two days earlier, another monk seal gave birth to a male pup at an undisclosed beach on the North Shore. That pup appears to be doing well, the release said.

The same female gave birth to a seal on the North shore in 2006, prompting more than 40 volunteers to keep watch over the pair for seven weeks until the pup was weaned. A few months later, however, the pup died in a gill net off Rabbit Island.

The first pup this year was born on Rabbit Island, the news release said.

As for the newborn pup abandoned by its mother on Kauai on May 2, it continues to do well, weighing in at 37 pounds. Since scientists took him into custody nearly two weeks ago, he has gained about 5 pounds.

The pup was active, swimming in a pool at the NOAA Fisheries Kewalo Research Facility, said NOAA spokeswoman Wende Goo.




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