We had a sad beginning to the end of Feb. Barry Werthwine and I were lucky enough to accompany Jamie and Mimi, our leaders, to a more private beach to tag a young seal that appeared on Kauai. We had thought she was about 3 yrs old, but after capturing her, determined that she was probably more like 4. She gave us quite a fight. It still didn’t take us more than about 3 minutes to tag, chip and take her blood sample. Hopefully, with a good data base, we may be able to match DNA and determine relationships between different seals. After a productive day of finding the new seal and two more seals we got back to a place that we could get calls, only to find that one of our favorite seals, 4DP was found dead at a place called Glass Beach. 4DP was an adult female that would often appear at Lawai and Baby Beaches and would generally leave around noon, unlike most of our seals. We had gotten to know her well, thus this was a shock. She had seemed very healthy, fat and active and suddenly here she was. Charlie was at softball practice and we had to call him to help lift the 450 lb carcass into a pickup truck to transport her to the base lot and then on to the airport. After packing her in ice and into a body bag she was flown to Oahu for a necropsy.
Unfortunately, the necropsy determined cause of death was blunt force trauma; fluids were also sent to a histology lab for analysis. With so few Monk Seals left, it especially hurts when we lose a healthy female . A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest of anyone regarding the 2 most recent seal deaths. This was like losing a family member, we knew 4DP so well, having watched her numerous times here on the south shore.
The culinary luncheons are in full swing again, and upon receiving email notification, we jump on them, since they’re in high demand. It has been an enjoyable way to support the Kauai Community College Culinary students….the food presentations are always phenomenal, note the duck confit below.
EKK has also returned with a vengeance , every Monday evening from Jan to March has been taken up with that event. Again, we had many awesome performances ranging from Hula to ukulele music. We seem to be getting more and more involved, with; not only, EKK, but also other musical events on the island. Handling ticket sales, box office sales, and putting up posters among our responsibilities. We get to see, or at least hear, all kinds of music…..we are often in the back totaling receipts during the performances. I also help with drawings for CD’s during each break.
This was one of the more recent EKK evenings, Kupaoa.
Moani and Allie are getting along well, each had some illness necessitating several trips to the vet, but both seem to be back to normal. Moani is growing by leaps and bounds.West Side Seniors softball team is doing well, we have several players that graduated into the 60 year old bracket (they had been alternating, since only one 55-59 year old can play at one time) so the team is much improved with the young blood (not to mention young knees!). However, that also means that Charlie hasn’t been able to play as much, often being the designated player (only batting). We are still enjoying the camaraderie ….and the pupu’s and beer after the games. I also am still the team score keeper (I get to sit in the dugout) a job nobody wants to do….it’s pretty intense.
We still go down to check the beach in the morning and I still run the short and slow 3 miles (I don’t seem to be as fast as I was in my youth) to hitch a ride back with Charlie. The seal volunteer population has been somewhat sparse lately, so there have been occasions that I’ve had to stay on the beach up to 5 hours in order to maintain full coverage.
We also were informed that, after 65 years of the monk seal population decreasing, the past 3 years have shown an increase of about 3% per year. Lets hope this trend continues. The estimated total Hawaiian Monk Seal population is now 1400.
Charlie and I have gone down to Kukuiula Harbor a few evenings to watch the sun set and sip on a glass of wine. Most recently, we shared a picnic table with a local musician (almost everybody on the island is a musician). We had our own little (EKK) community sing in the shelter.
Life continues to be quite busy, last week Charlie was involved with a project to move a young seal, H92 from a canal in Kapaa to PMRF. After much discussion, it was determined that, because she was being lured up the canal with fish entrails (illegal) like two previous young seals, she was in danger of getting trapped in nets that were put in the water. Unfortunately, she was moved last week and by this week, she had swum around the island and returned to the canal. The TV news and newspaper now have been filled with pleas to locals to stop throwing fish scraps in the canal.
Unfortunately, we were shocked by the devastating news that a dear friend of ours on the mainland shot himself. This friend would communicate daily with Charlie and though he had serious health problems, this was unthinkable.. We’ve both been alternating between anger and sadness, trying to understand what would drive someone to do this. Very sad for everyone.