Up and running

Slowly but surely I’m getting back into it.

Our weather has changed over the past couple of weeks. We’d been having a wet cool summer compared to last year. It was really pleasant, with the trade winds blowing almost every day. Lately though the over night rains have stopped, and it’s a little muggier. The temps are in the low to mid 80s, so not oppressive. The trade winds picked up mid week, which made the days more comfortable.

Another indication of summer is that so many of our seal volunteers are now off-island. Donna is now gone for two months, plus 3 of our other reliable volunteers. We may be picking up more beach time soon, Plus Donna has decided that she no longer wants to coordinate the south shore volunteers, so that will most likely fall to me. It seems we have no problem keeping busy!

The week turned very sad on Tuesday. We started to hear rumors that one of our 5 seal pups had died. This had been a very good year, with 5 pups born. Last year there were only two pups born on Kauai, so this was a good year in comparison. But our volunteer Tuesday morning found the most recent pup, 13 days old, was dead on the beach from dog bites. The mother also had bites, but they were not fatal. The mother was found next to the pup, essentially wailing or moaning over it’s body. Checking the beach three other seals, another mother and pup and a third pup, all had bite marks. A group of investigators flew over from Oahu, and assisted our seal coordinators in examining the seals and treating the bitten seals for bacteria . Meanwhile the police have started a search for the dog and it’s owner.

The week also found us on the beach for extended periods, and for more than one shift a day. Our 6 year seal W06 came on Lawai beach as soon as Donna left. Obviously coincidental, but maybe an ominous start to Donna’s absence. Then later in the day T12 came up on Poipu – we hadn’t seen him in a month or more. So the lack of available volunteers means long beach shifts for us. By the end of the week, T12 has become a nuisance! He was on the beach for over 40 hours, coming up Wednesday morning around 8 am, and still there Thursday evening around 8 pm. He was gone Friday morning at daybreak, but came back around 9 am. And he repeated this on Saturday, going out at 5:55 am, then coming back on shore at 1pm. And Saturday evening we also had 6FQ pay us a visit. So, free time is something if a luxury that seems to be fleeting.

We had our seal volunteer meeting Wednesday night though Charlie had to stay at Poipu since T12 hadn’t gone back into the water. Our meeting was designed to help the volunteers understand and respect the Hawaiian culture. So we learned two chants, the first Oli Aloha, is used when you approach the ocean and the second, Ho’olauna introduces yourself to the ocean, the beach and the wind. We learned, or were at least introduced to the names of the different winds, the lunar phases and the months. It was very enlightening but also very complicated, we expect to get some more lessons in the future. This program is part of a program taught to Hawaiian kids to help them appreciate their heritage, I think that they learn it faster than we do.

The mangoes were late this year, which was disappointing. Yesterday we stopped at the fruit stand near Poipu, and bought a couple of Hayden’s. They may be late this year, but they’re terrific! We’ll be eating mangoes now for the rest of the summer! Two trees across the street are dropping mangos on the road, so our street smells like ripe mango. The branches are heavy with fruit, it seems like much more than last summer.

Speaking of summer, the beaches are full of tourists, with children. In some ways it’s fun, but it’s also a challenge to make sure that they don’t get close to the seals. It’s almost impossible to keep them away from the turtles.

And one more ‘summer’ comment. Public schools usually start around Labor Day in Wisconsin. But here they start the first of August. It seems funny to have kids going back to school so early.

We also have a few tropic storms that are forming in the Pacific. So we’ll be keeping an eye on those. Life in the Pacific isn’t all sunny!

This week has been really busy with T12 he spent the night…..again ………on Saturday night. Typical for the weekend, there were scads of people on the beach and he doesn’t like to stay in one place. That means lots of rope and sign moving, he is pretty cute though so we aren’t too bothered, it’s just that it means quite a few hours on the beach…….every day it’s been at least 6 hours.




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