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Monk seal pup relocated from Waikiki to remote shoreline

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki on May 21.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki on May 21.

COURTESY NOAA
                                Hawaiian monk seal pup Paʻaki swims in the water after being released on a new beach.
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COURTESY NOAA

Hawaiian monk seal pup Paʻaki swims in the water after being released on a new beach.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki on May 21.
COURTESY NOAA
                                Hawaiian monk seal pup Paʻaki swims in the water after being released on a new beach.

Federal wildlife officials have relocated the newly weaned monk seal pup Pa‘aki from Kaimana Beach to a more remote Oahu shoreline.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday said the pup was collected, with the help of partners, from the popularly frequented Kaimana Beach in Waikiki on Wednesday evening.

“The new location will allow Pa’aki to grow up wild, offering more frequent opportunities to engage with other seals than with people,” said NOAA Fisheries in an online post. “This is important for the young pup’s development.”

Pa‘aki spent the night at NOAA’s facilities, then got her flipper tags, RT96, this morning. NOAA said the pup was also vaccinated against morbillivirus, or phocine distemper, before her release to the new beach today.

Kaiwi is believed to have given birth to Pa‘aki on May 1 at Kaimana Beach. It was the third time she had given birth at the beach in Waikiki. Her earlier pups were born along the Kaiwi shoreline.

Kaiwi weaned Pa‘aki on Sunday after about six weeks of nursing and bonding with the pup.

Although officials recommended the public choose another beach during that time, and maintain a respectful distance of 150 feet from mom and pup, many beachgoers apparently did not do so.

Officials said they will not disclose the location where Pa‘aki was released to minimize stressors and to keep the pup safe.

NOAA reported that upon release at the new shoreline, Pa‘aki headed straight for the water.

A temporary satellite tag has been attached to the pup to monitor her movements she explores her new home in the next few weeks, NOAA said. NOAA will provide updates on how she is settling in.

The Hawaiian monk seal — one of the most endangered seal species in the world — is protected by both state and federal laws. They are endemic to Hawaii, meaning they can only be found in Hawaii. Only about 1,600 remain in the wild.

“Hawaiian monk seals like Pa’aki are found nowhere else in the world, so it is very special to see them in person,” said NOAA in its post. “Show your kokua by being respectful around these seals and other marine wildlife!”

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