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Watch: Birth of Hawaiian Monk Seal Pup Captured on Camera

April 19, 2022, 12:21 PM HST
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Editor’s Note: The video clip above shows the birth of a Hawaiian monk seal pup in the wild. Images may be considered graphic to some viewers. Discretion is advised.

The birth of a Hawaiian monk seal pup at a North Shore beach on Oʻahu was caught on camera last week.

The mother, identified as RN58 gave birth to PO5 on April 14. It is the fifth pup born on O‘ahu this year. Lesley Macpherson of the DLNR Division of State Parks captured the event after observing RN58 a week earlier noting the animal looked ready to give birth.

Courtesy of DLNR

Macpherson continued to watch RN58 every day, including last Thursday, when she saw it go out for a dawn swim and then haul out on a North Shore beach. That afternoon she said the seal had started contractions and she, along with two volunteers, witnessed the breach birth of PO5 at 2:30 p.m.

“As soon as its sac burst, the little one started wiggling around. Mom checked on it by vocalizing. He was able to move fast,” Macpherson said.

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Some of the most endearing of her video clips show the pup stuck on one side of a small beach rock.

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“It was 20-minutes old when it made it to the rock. Mom was on the other side vocalizing. The pup took three-long minutes to scale it,” Macpherson said.

By Friday, PO5 was nursing regularly and had its first water experience.

Courtesy of DLNR

NOAA Fisheries reported today, that PO5 was one of two Hawaiian monk seal pups born on O‘ahu last week. New mom RH92 gave birth to her first-born pup, PO4, on or around April 14. Earlier this year three pups, born on O‘ahu, died of undetermined causes.

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“It’s really important, especially during rearing and weaning, that people respect the boundaries set up to protect these seal pairs and to keep their dogs on leashes at all times,” said Ryan Jenkinson, Protected Species Program Lead for the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).

DLNR, NOAA Fisheries, and Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response will continue to actively monitor the moms and their pups for the next five to six weeks.

Macpherson has now witnessed six Hawaiian monk seal births.

“So many people are passionate about protecting monk seals and it was exciting to witness the birth of PO5 and to be able to share it with others,” Macpherson said. “My hope is that when people see these images, they’ll too become passionate about protecting all our creatures.”

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