Monk seal pups who weathered tropical storm together now bonded
Two rescued Hawaiian monk seal pups weathered Tropical Storm Lane on the Big Island together and are now like siblings, marine experts said.
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Two rescued Hawaiian monk seal pups weathered Tropical Storm Lane on the Big Island together and are now like siblings, marine
The pair is now playing and napping in the same pen at Ke Kai Ola, the monk seal hospital in Kona run by The Marine Mammal Center, according to hospital
director Claire Simeone.
“They’re fed separately but spend the majority of the day together, and they love being together,” said Simeone.
The two were introduced about two weeks ago at Ke Kai Ola, and were a little hesitant at first, according to Simeone. But now they play chase, swim loops around one another, and sometimes sleep cuddled together.
“Now they’re pretty much inseparable,” she said. “… Both of them are learning how to eat, how
to catch live fish and really exploring their environment, which is exactly what they’re supposed to be
doing out in the wild.”
During preparations for then-Hurricane Lane last week, the pair was evacuated from Ke Kai Ola, which is at sea level at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, along with volunteers and staff, for two days, but were able to return to the hospital over the weekend, with no mishaps.
The hospital has contingency plans in place, and is ready, should another hurricane approach.
Both male pups were left to fend for themselves over the summer after they switched to other moms to nurse, a behavior scientists have observed in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Sole, a prematurely weaned pup named by the Kalaupapa community on Molokai, was brought to
Ke Kai Ola in July.
Monk seal mother, Rocky, left her pup, RK58, after a mom-pup switch on Kauai. Federal and state officials rescued RK58 and brought him to Ke Kai Ola in August.
Both pups are gaining weight and doing well, said Simeone. Sole weighs about 60 pounds, and RK58 weighs about 75 pounds.
Both pups eventually will be returned to the wild when they are ready, said Simeone, but probably not for several more weeks.
Wildlife officials remind the public to remain a safe distance from Hawaiian monk seals. Seal sightings can be reported to NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840.