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Thursday 22 March 2018

Sealed with a kiss! Waikiki beach birth pupdates threatened population

The Hawaiian monk seal and her newborn pup share a tender moment (AP)
The Hawaiian monk seal and her newborn pup share a tender moment (AP)

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal has given birth on a Waikiki beach for the first time in decades, to the delight of wildlife experts.

The seal was born late on Wednesday or early Thursday, said Angela Amlin, co-ordinator for the Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Programme.

Mother and pup attracted dozens of onlookers as they rolled around on the sand, with volunteers keeping people at a safe distance behind a rope barrier.

The mother, known as RH58 and nicknamed Rocky, has lived on and around Oahu since 2002. But she would return to Kauai, where she was born 17 years ago, to give birth.

This time she had her pup at Kaimana, an area in Waikiki popular with Honolulu residents.

It is the first seal to be born in the densely populated tourist district since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping track in the 1970s, Ms Amlin said.

She says monk seals normally like to give birth in quiet spots so it is rare that pups appear in a congested place like Waikiki.

Monk seal pups usually nurse for about five to seven weeks.

Mothers are protective of their pups during this time and officials are urging people to keep their distance so they do not disturb the pair.

Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species. There are only about 1,400 in the wild.

Meanwhile a Hawaiian monk seal conservation volunteer on Kauai has captured a rare video of one of the animals giving birth.

The seal, known as RO28 had her pup on Kauai's north shore on June 18.


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