Hawaiian monk seal named Rocky gives birth to 11th pup

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaiian monk seal named Rocky gave birth to her 11th pup on a remote shoreline on Kauai.

Rocky and the baby monk seal appear to be doing well following the Monday delivery, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said.

Nine of Rocky’s pups were born on Kauai beaches, but her 10th generated attention last year. Rocky gave birth to a female pup on the crowded Kaimana Beach in Honolulu, surprising visitors in June 2017.

The pup, nicknamed Kaimana, was later moved away from the busy Waikiki area for safety reasons after she was weaned.

The latest birth was expected as soon as Sunday, said Aliza Milette-Winfree, NOAA’s Oahu marine mammal response coordinator.

“We’re definitely hoping that this year she will once again go back to a nice, secluded beach,” Milette-Winfree told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week. “A really busy beach like Waikiki is not a healthy place for a monk seal pup to grow, to become a healthy and independent monk seal, with crowds of people instead of other monk seals to learn and grow from.”

The gender of Rocky’s newest pup was not known Monday. More than two dozen monk seals have been born on Hawaii this year. The endangered species has a population of about 1,400 in the wild.

“We’re really happy to share that this year the main Hawaiian Islands are having a record year for monk seal births,” Milette-Winfree said. “So far there’s been 26, and we are expecting a few more.”

NOAA officials remind people to stay away from monk seals, especially mothers protecting their pups.