All eyes on newborn Hawaiian monk seal in Waikiki

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many people are getting a glimpse of the newborn Hawaiian monk seal and its mother in Waikiki.

The pup’s first 24 hours were spent on Kaimana Beach, where experts expect it to remain for the next several weeks.

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All eyes remain on Kaiwi and her newborn, people were looking in all directions trying to capture the pup’s every move.

Stephanie Zmach, who is visiting from California, is staying at a hotel six floors above where the newborn and mother rest. She said, she kept looking down all night.

“It was bliss, it was joy and to see the love of the immediate bonding of the mother and the baby,” Zmach said. “It was just heaven.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hawaii monk seal recovery coordinator Angela Amlin said, it is likely the mom and newborn will remain near the same area of Kaimana Beach for at least one month. Amlin said, the mother will swim away in about six weeks once she needs to feed once again.

“Kaiwi tends to nurse for about 42 days or six weeks, she’ll stay there, they’ll start moving a little bit more, moving around the beach, start getting in the water,” Amlin said. ” A some point, start swimming short distances and then eventually mom will have depleted her nutritional reserves.”  

This is 10-year-old Kaiwi’s fourth pup, Amlin said she has given birth to all her newborns on Oahu. This was the first time she gave birth at busy Waikiki.

According to NOAA, Hawaiian monk seals are among the most endangered seal species in the world. There is an estimated population of 1,400.

“We ask the public to keep their distance from mom and pup, I know that is challenging in a busy area like Waikiki, hence why the barriers are up,” Amlin said. “Please stay behind any barriers that are there and listen carefully to the instructions from our personnel or partner personnel that are on site.” 

Amlin said, they are still trying to determine why Kaiwi gave birth on Kaimana Beach, as mon seals usually opt to nurture their newborns in quieter places.

Back in 2017, a Hawaiian monk seal named Rocky gave birth to a newborn around the same area. The mom and pup remained at Kaimana Beach for more than a month.

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