First Hawaiian monk seal pup of the season born on Kauai

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The first monk seal pup born in Hawaii this year is a female.

The pup has already been weaned and is learning to forage for her own food on the south side of Kauai, The Garden Island reported Thursday.

Jamie Thompton, Kauai marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the agency expects a few more monk seal pups will be born this season.

The female pup tagged RK42 was born on April 20 and stayed with her mother for 37 days before being weaned.

Mother seals don’t forage after giving birth and lose about half of their normal weight while they nurse, according to the agency.

Volunteers first believed the pup was a male, but confirmed a few weeks later that it was female.

Volunteers said it’s good that the first pup of the season is a female because more females are needed to grow the monk seal population.

After the pup was born, volunteers said the mother seal, tagged RK13, had to chase off a few male seals that got too close to them.

RK13 has raised other pups on Kauai since 2014.

The current location of the weaned pup has not been released to the public to keep it safe and wild, Thompton said.

A stillborn pup was born in April on Oahu.