• Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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2 rescued Hawaiian monk seal pups recovering at Big Island facility

  • COURTESY MEGAN McGINNIS / The Marine Mammal Center NOAA

    Hawaiian monk seal pups ‘Akulikuli, left, and Maiapilo, were rescued from Laysan Island and transported to Hawaii aboard the NOAA research vessel Oscar Elton Sette.

  • COURTESY AMY RUBENSTEIN / The Marine Mammal Center NOAA

    ‘Akulikuli, a male Hawaiian monk seal pup, is recovering at Ke Kai Ola, the Marine Mammal Center’s hospital on the Big Island.

  • COURTESY AMY RUBENSTEIN / The Marine Mammal Center NOAA

    Maiapilo, a weaned female Hawaiian monk seal pup, is recovering at Ke Kai Ola, the Marine Mammal Center’s hospital in Kailua-Kona.


Two Hawaiian monk seal pups — a male and female — rescued from Laysan Island are now receiving care at Ke Kai Ola, the hospital run by The Marine Mammal Center in Kailua-Kona.

The newly weaned pups, ‘Akulikuli and Maiapilo, were suffering from malnutrition in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, according to Ke Kai Ola, but their Sept. 13 arrival was delayed due to Hurricane Olivia.

The Oscar Elton Sette, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research vessel that rescued the seals, had to seek shelter at Pearl Harbor as the hurricane approached the islands and wait for the storm to pass before transporting the two monk seal pups to Hawaii island.

“Both of these pups have had quite a harrowing journey due to Hurricane Olivia before they arrived at the hospital,” said Ke Kai Ola hospital manager Claire Simeone in a news release. “We are grateful to have many partners who reacted quickly to handle this unique situation and give these pups a second chance at life.”

Both pups are now active and doing well, officials said.

They joined Sole and RK58, two male pups already undergoing rehabilitation at Ke Kai Ola since this summer.

‘Akulikuli, a male, had a few lacerations on his face and a small ulcer on the roof of his mouth. He weighs about 24 pounds lighter than his companion, Maiapilo, a female. Both are being fed a “fish-mash smoothie” three times a day to help them get vital nutrients.

Megan McGinnis, animal care manager at the Big Island facility, described ‘Akulikuli as small, but vocal, and Maiapilo as “feisty from the start.”

‘Akulikuli is named after an indigenous coastline plant, while Maiapilo is named after a plant native to Laysan Island.

Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species, with an estimated population of about 1,400 remaining in the wild, officials say.

Wildlife officials remind the public to remain a safe distance from Hawaiian monk seals, especially moms and pups. Sick and injured seals on Hawaii island can be reported to Ke Kai Ola’s 24-hour hotline at 987-0765. Seal sightings on any island can be reported to NOAA’s hotline at (888) 256-9840.

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