Oahu’s third pup of this season was born on May 12 to monk seal mom RL42 in a secluded area, according to HMAR in a Facebook post.
The pup, initially known as P03, has been named Leihilo by students at Hauula Elementary School, HMAR said. Students say they named him Leihilo because he was born on a Hilo moon, meaning new moon, and that lei is figurative for a “beloved child.”
On May 13, Oahu’s fourth pup, P04, was born to monk seal mom RL12, also known as Aukai.
Students at Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Waimanalo at Blanche Pope Elementary have named her Manana after the island where she was born.
Both pups appear to be healthy and well, according to HMAR, which will continue monitoring both mom-and-pup pairs.
On Kaimana Beach, meanwhile, Loli‘i continues to grow fatter and stronger, and is likely to wean soon, according to wildlife officials who are keeping an eye on him.
His mother, Kaiwi, caused a stir when she gave birth on April 26 to the pup at the popular and well-frequented Kaimana Beach after having given birth a number of times to previous pups at her usual spot along the Kaiwi coastline. Students at Halau Ku Mana named the pup Loli‘i.
HMAR volunteers are also keeping a close watch over Kaiwi and Loli‘i.
Recently, temporary fencing at Kaimana Beach has been taken down because Kaiwi and Loli‘i have been ranging farther away from the pupping site and spending most of their time in other nearby locations.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources recommends that the public choose other beaches to swim or snorkel at until the pup has weaned because monk seal moms can be very protective.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the public should keep a distance of at least 150 feet from monk seal moms and pups, whenever possible, particularly when they are in the water.
Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species protected under state and federal laws, and harming or harassing one can result in imprisonment and fines. To report monk seal sightings or marine mammals in distress, call NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840.