Monk Seal News

This week has been quite busy wth Monk seal activity, not because we’ve had many seals at Poipu, but because a new seal appeared on the island with a hook in her mouth.  The hook wasn’t swallowed, but had entered her mouth and the tip and barb had penetrated the side of her cheek.  This is serious but not life-threatening.  We were called to assist in the hook removal.  She was sleeping on a more remote beach within Kauai Coffee’s  plantation, which has restricted access.  So, we met Jamie (the NOAA) coordinator, Mimi (the DNLR coordinator) and Barry at the coffee company office to get permits to access the beach through their property.  We then drove down as close as we could to the beach, and then hiked down.  It’s been hot with no wind so it was sweltering at the end of the road.  We winded our way down through the scrub to the beach, where we regrouped, geared up and went through the protocol….the GAR that we were trained in a couple of weeks ago.  This is quite complicated, since the seals are protected by the endangered species act.  After the orientation, Jamie, Mimi, Charlie and Barry donned coveralls and gloves and we jogged down the deep sand to capture the girl.  We were lucky, she didn’t hear us coming so Jamie slipped the net over her head and after a struggle, pinned her down her head, Barry on the shoulders, Charlie on the back flippers.  Mimi approached the seal’s head, while I passed the instruments to her.  Mimi grabbed the hook (about 2 inches in diameter) with pliers and couldn’t pull it out  It was only hooked on the lip but it didn’t work, so I handed her the bolt cutters so that she could cut the eye out.  Success!   With both ends of the hook removed, we then proceeded to tag her.  Her official name is now 7GM.  Again, I was the assistant, handing Mimi the instruments needed to tag….the punch, the beta dyne, and the injector to chip her.  At that point the signal was given….let her loose and run away. 7GM laid there for a short time, looking dazed and then she turned to swim into the ocean.  The whole procedure from beginning the run and releasing the seal took 3 minutes and 53 seconds.  We have a awesome team!  We did get some credit from the Monk Seal Research Foundation (we are the Kauai Monk Seal Hui.)  This seal is probably only 3 years old, but she was a real fighter.  We had a had time holding her down, as she was twisting and rolling on us.   Good thing she wasn’t full grown, she would have been a real handful. If you click on the above link, it will take you to their site with a description of the procedure.

The hook that we removed (the 1KZ tag is shown only for size reference):

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Life in Kauai is certainly not boring.

Big news in Koloa is that the pedestrian bridge that was destroyed over 5 years ago has reappeared and is in place across the creek.  Or at least the new replacement bridge is now here.  However, access to it on both ends is blocked…….the ramp has yet to be built.  Typical of projects here on Kauai.  Also, big in the news this week is a meeting concerning the perpetual traffic jam in Kapaa going north.  Many times during the day, traffic crawls at 3 MPH.  It seems any solutions are way in the future, and of course there’s no money for the projects. The roads, in general, are not first rate.  A couple of days ago a crash on the main highway near the tree tunnel stopped traffic to the South and West sides for 3 hours….there are no alternate routes so whenever there is any issue, all traffic is stopped sometimes up to 5 hours, a real pain if you bought ice cream at Costco….bring along a spoon just in case.

Also, big news this week is that Obama has approved the expanded marine sanctuary in the Hawaiian Islands, the conservationist are very happy, but some local fisherman are not so pleased.  When you see the toll over-fishing has taken on marine life, I’m glad that it is happening.  The monk seals that are starving in the northwest islands illustrate the fishing problem well, this wee4 emaciated and starving seals to capture by NOAA staff and taken to Kona to rehabilitate them.

The end of the week found us with hardly any seals up, what a change!  We finished all kinds of projects that had been waiting for a break.  We still go down to the beach in the mornings and one morning we walked over from the parking lot to see a couple of fellows string a line between two trees and then proceed to tightrope walk.  What next in Poipu, just when we think that we’ve seen it all, then tightrope walking?  IMG_0295

We even took some time to drive to Kekaha to check out another beautiful beach that had way fewer people than our beach at Poipu.

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We’ve been feeding a feral cat since we moved here, Grey Cat is getting less jumpy and I think that she has adopted us.  We can’t touch her, but she no longer runs away when I feed her, she just hides under the car until I back off.  Not only does she hide under the car, but she also now sleeps on the car.

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We’re glad to feed her, and keep her from starving.  But she does sometimes drive Allie nuts, but coming to the lanai door and ‘talking’ to Allie on the inside of the door.  We have to be careful not to let Allie out!

 

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