(HONOLULU) – PO5, or the recently named Hawaiian monk seal pup, Pualani, will be relocated from Kaimana Beach in Waikīkī after she is weaned, according to NOAA. The offspring of mother seal Kaʻiwi was born in mid-April.

“After careful assessment, in close coordination with our state, county, and non-profit partners, we determined the best option for Pualani is to relocate her, especially given the risks of habituation in such a crowded area,” explained Kilali Ala’ilima Gibson, NOAA Fisheries O‘ahu Marine Wildlife Response Coordinator.

Gibson added, “We want to extend a big mahalo to our incredible community and our valued partners for their efforts to protect our endangered Hawaiian monk seals on Kaimana beach. Together, we’ve created a safe nursery for mom and pup, and we look forward to the next phase of monitoring them as they transition out of their nursing phase and into independent seals.”

All the agencies involved are currently making plans for Pualani’s safe removal from the historically busy beach.

Volunteers and staff from Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response (HMAR), City and County of Honolulu lifeguards, and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been successfully protecting the monk seal pair and ocean goers around the clock. Mother monk seals, like many wild animals, can be fiercely protective of their offspring and have inflicted injuries on people.

“Since our officers began providing land and ocean overwatch at Kaimana Beach, only one person was cited over the past month,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “The expanded cordon (roped perimeter), the outreach efforts of HMAR and NOAA, and DOCARE’s presence have kept both the seals and people safe. Officers will continue their work on the beach and in the water until Pualani is safely relocated.”

The collaborative, multi-agency effort has expanded and been enhanced over the past six years, during which four monk seal pups have been born and weaned at Kaimana Beach.

Emily Greene, the HMAR Education and Engagement Manager said, “We’re happy to report that the operation has been extremely smooth this year, thanks to our dedicated volunteers, the lifeguards, and DOCARE officers. Regular users of Kaimana Beach and visitors have been respectful and genuinely interested in these monk seals and the species overall. While it takes a lot of resources, it does provide a wonderful opportunity to talk to people and teach them about this endangered species and why we put so much time and effort into protecting them.”

The time and site of the relocation effort will not be announced in advance to provide safety and protection throughout the transition process.

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