Updated: September 30, 2022
Hawaiian monk seal pup Koalani, who became quite the celebrity while his mother Rocky taught him how to survive on his own at a popular Waikīkī beach, now is doing well at his new beach along a remote section of Oʻahu, according to a NOAA Fisheries blog post.
Since Koalani was relocated to the secret beach on the evening of Aug. 18, the Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response has been on site daily to help watch over the pup. Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.
Based on reports from the response team and data from the temporary satellite tag, Koalani, officially RQ58, appears healthy and is exhibiting normal behavior for a weaned seal pup.
Koalani is exploring the shallow coastline around his new beach. He also has taken a few longer swims around the reef area and even into deeper offshore water, on a few occasions going as far out as 2 to 3 nautical miles into water more than 300 feet deep.
This is normal and expected behavior for a weaned seal pup. His swims around the reef and into deeper water will help him develop the foraging skills he’ll need to hunt for prey such as crabs, squid, octopus, eels and fish.
“It is so wonderful to see Koalani resting and exploring peacefully without disturbance,” said Diana Kramer, Regional Stranding Coordinator, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands region. “This quiet environment allows Koalani to focus on exploring the natural features of his environment rather than interacting with humans.”
Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response wrote in a Facebook post: “He is often sound asleep but always in different places, meaning that he is swimming around, exploring and foraging.”
This environment away from people will allow Koalani to develop the skills he will need to succeed in the wild, as he faces the many challenges monk seals must overcome throughout their lifetime.
Koalani was the 14th pup born to Rocky. For a story about their 24-7 protection for two weeks and the decision to relocate Koalani, click here.
NOAA Fisheries and Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response will continue to monitor Koalani over the coming months.
“We look forward to seeing him grow,” the blog said.