Maui News

Monk seal pup, Paʻaki is officially weaned

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Hawaiian monk seal pup Paʻaki on Kaimana Beach, Waikīkī. Credit: Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response (NOAA Fisheries Permit #24359)

Lei Day pup PO5 (Paʻaki) is six weeks old today, and the young pup is officially weaned, according to an update provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries division. NOAA Fisheries also confirmed that Paʻaki is a female—which is hopeful news for continued Hawaiian monk seal population recovery.

Both the Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response (HMAR) and the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), have been monitoring the pair. HMAR reported that mother seal RK96 (Kaiwi) separated from Paʻaki on June 9. Monitoring continued through June 10 to confirm the weaning. 

“This is an important milestone for Paʻaki and mother RK96 (Kaiwi) because it marks the end of their time together during the nursing period. Kaiwi may return to Kaimana Beach after weaning Paʻaki, but now mom and pup are both independent seals,” NOAA reports.


“Throughout the nursing period, a mother monk seal will not leave her pup to forage for food. Instead, she will stay with her pup and fast until she has used up her energy reserves. At this point, the mother will abruptly wean the pup,” according to NOAA. “The pup then becomes an independent seal and must learn to survive on its own. The mother, having lost substantial body mass, will go out to forage again. Over the next 1–3 months, she will regain her weight, molt, and become receptive for the next pregnancy.”

Crews will relocate Paʻaki to a more remote Oʻahu shoreline, as done with previous Waikīkī-born pups. “We believe this move is best for Paʻaki based on the risk assessment. It will allow Paʻaki to grow up wild rather than in the crowds of beachgoers in Waikīkī,” NOAA reports.

The new beach will remain undisclosed for the pup’s safety, but officials say it offers more frequent opportunities to engage with other seals than with people, which is important for the young pup’s development.


In general, young Hawaiian monk seals face threats to their survival regardless of where they grow up. These threats include entanglement or ingestion of fishing gear, dogs roaming off leash, intentional harm, and disease, like toxoplasmosis.

NOAA released the following helpful tips to keep seals protected:


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