WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - NOAA officials have successfully relocated a young Hawaiian monk seal away from a busy Waikiki shoreline.
The monk seal pup, fittingly nicknamed Kaimana, was relocated from Kaimana Beach to an undisclosed location on Oahu after researchers say she weaned from her mother, ending a weeks long nursing period.
"Monk seal weaning is much more dramatic than human weaning," Stacie Robinson, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Ecologist said.
When a mom depletes her resources, she leaves to find more food and doesn't return Robinson said.
"So when Rocky left, that was a really clear signal that the pup was completely weaned," Robinson added.
The pup is now on her own. The initial sign of weaning came around 1:30 Friday afternoon.
"For folks who were watching on the live cam, they probably saw two seals go out for a swim, and only one came back, which was Kaimana," Angela Amlin, Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator said.
"When it became apparent that rocky would not be returning, we made the decision to go ahead and move her early this morning," Amlin added.
Officials say the relocation efforts began around 6 a.m. Saturday, and were completed by 11 a.m.
Researches say Kaimana is in healthy condition, and adapting well to her new surroundings.
"She swam for about an hour or so for her first time and then hauled back up on the same beach that we translocated her to," Robinson said.
Moving the seal to a less busy area will allow Kaimana to better adapt to being in nature alone.
Safety concerns were raised after Kaimana and Rocky somehow managed to get stuck in the Waikiki Natatorium at least twice.
The mother-pup pair also posed a safety hazard to humans at Kaimana Beach, because nursing monk seal mothers are known to be aggressive when feeling threatened by their surroundings. Officials warned that mother Rocky may bite visitors to the popular beach.
Rocky has not been spotted since early Friday, which was considered the 43rd or 44th day of nursing for Kaimana. Rocky's previous nursing periods have usually lasted 39 to 42 days.
"Nursing time is done and now this pup is on to the next exciting thing in monk seal life," Robinson said.