In a rare sight, Hawaiian monk seal and her pup make Waikiki beach home
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian monk seal "RH58" and her new pup created quite the spectacle at Kaimana Beach on Thursday.
The seal, also known as "Rocky," is believed to have given birth at the Waikiki beach early Thursday. And they're expected to stay there for weeks.
While the seals are there, officials are urging beachgoers to keep a distance.
"For people who get to see it, this is very special," said Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator Angela Amlin. "There are only 1,400 monk seals in existence, only 300 of them are in the main Hawaiian Islands and only about 40 to 50 that really frequent Oahu. So this is not an every day thing."
Kehau Bugado said the experience is not just adorable, it is a great learning experience for her three daughters.
"I wasn't expecting anything and then my girls started yelling, 'Mommy! A seal! A seal!' So I looked over and there she was! So we walked over and she's there with her pup ... they had tons of questions, so curious. So I'm excited that they got to experience that," Bugado said.
The creatures may be cute and cuddly, but experts say nursing seals can get very protective of their young.
For example, a plastic bag got near Rocky and her pup Thursday afternoon and mom reacted.
"It's happened in the past, where someone was swimming out front and the pup wasn't even in the water and the mom went after the person," said Kristen Kelly, an assistant with the state's Marine Wildlife Program. "So I wouldn't swim in that area. There's plenty of beach to bring your canoes and boats in on the other side."
That is why officials have the area near the east end blocked off.
Amlin said "Rocky" typically nurses for about 40 days. At that point, she will leave and her pup may be tended to on the beach for four to six more weeks until it feels comfortable enough to get in the water. Amlin said the area will be blocked off the entire time the seals are present.
Amlin said "Rocky" was born on Kauai but has lived on Oahu since 2002. She likes to hang out in Waikiki, especially Kaimana Beach.
She's had 10 pups, but has never given birth there. No other seals have given birth there in recent years either.
The seals are federally protected, so people can get fined if they disturb them.
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