Next phase begins for young monk seal at Kaimana Beach

Photo: DLNR

It’s the end of an eventful chapter for two Hawaiian monk seals, Rocky (RH58), and her daughter, Kaimana (PO3).

On Saturday morning, wildlife officials relocated the pup to an undisclosed location away from the often-crowded Kaimana Beach.

Kaimana is 44 days old and she had quite the adventure during her time in Waikiki.

Wildlife officials said the move is necessary so she doesn’t become habituated to humans and for the public’s safety as well.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Kaimana is frolicking around in her new home. We’re told it’s on another part of Oahu close to other seals.

“Once we got her onto the beach, she went into the water. She was rolling around and swimming and exploring and acting normally,” said Angela Amlin with NOAA.

On Friday, beachgoers reported that Rocky swam away from the beach and hadn’t been seen for hours.

NOAA stood watch overnight and there was no sign of Rocky returning, so Kaimana was moved at around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

“When the mom has depleted all her resources and needs to get more food, she just takes off, so when Rocky left, that was a pretty clear signal that the pup was completely weaned,” said Dr. Stacie Robinson, with NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program.

“She was alert, looking around, kind of bright, responsive,” Amlin said. “She vocalized a few times, but nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary. She did very, very well on transport.”

Wildlife officials told KHON2 the pup measured 114 centimeters around, or about 44 inches, and weighs an estimated 180 to 200 pounds.

She was also vaccinated and tagged with a satellite tracker that will allow researchers to follow her for next four to six months.

“That’s a nice fat seal. She was in really healthy condition,” Robinson said. “We will actually be able to track where she’s going and see that she’s developing kind of normal movement and foraging behaviors.”

Back at Kaimana Beach, many people were surprised to see Rocky and her pup were no longer there.

“We were looking forward to seeing the pup. I wanted them to have a chance to see it in person, but she had already left,” Shelley Clark said.

“It’s something interesting and something that I know that other people will definitely remember,” Raykin Enos said.

NOAA said it’s possible Rocky could come back but people shouldn’t worry.

“That is not because Rocky is coming back to look for Kaimana. That’s because this is a spot that Rocky likes to hang out and is known to frequent,” Amlin said.

As for what’s next for Rocky, we’re told she’ll go through a molting period where she’ll shed her hair and grow a new coat. It’s possible she could go off and mate again.

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