National News

Endangered Hawaiian monk seal gives birth at Kaimana beach

Posted June 30

— Kaimana Beach welcomed visitors with an adorable surprise Thursday morning.

NOAA says they received a call with word that Monk Seal RH58, also known as Rocky, became a mom again.

Monk seals are on the endangered list, so volunteers kept people behind roped off areas. That didn't stop crowds of people from gawking at the newborn pup.

"We've been watching it all morning long and it's so adorable seeing the mama push the little baby into the water." Said beachgoer Kelly Borah.

Rocky is well known in Waikiki, but this was the first time she gave birth on O'ahu.

"This is her tenth pup and she's pupped 9 times previously, all at the same beach on Kauai. So, she's normally very routine and this is a little outside of her routine." Said Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator Angela Amlin.

State, federal, and county officials are sharing duties making sure the public keeps its distance.

"We're trying to avoid 3 things. The first thing that we want to avoid is disturbance to the point where mom leaves the pup. Pup really needs to get a lot of nutrition in the next 5 to 7 weeks so it's really important that mom stays the whole time." Explained Amlin.

Another concern is human safety. While Monk seals aren't typically considered aggressive, a nursing mom can be very protective. Amlin warns this is something swimmers and snorkelers should keep in mind.

"The third thing that we want to avoid is the seal getting habituated to humans. We don't want them to associate humans with food or with entertainment because that can pose a safety risk to both the seal and to the people." Said Amlin.

Amlin says it could be a while that the mother and her pup are on the beach.

"This mom in particular nurses for about 40 days. At that point she will leave and the pup will remain on the beach for another 4 to 6 weeks." Said Amlin.

NOAA officials encourage the public to reach out to them or the DLNR if you see anyone threatening the monk seal and her pup.

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