NOAA and the Marine Mammal Center team says Rocky the Hawaiian monk seal has rejected her three-week-old pup.
Experts say it’s unfortunate, but it’s something that happens in the wild.
The pup was born on July 16 on a remote Kauai beach near two other mom-pup pairs.
Last week, experts say Rocky’s pup switched to another mom. They were reunited, but the pup switched mothers again.
Scientists tried to reunite them, but Rocky got aggressive and left the area.
Officials say the pup was left on its own after having nursed for a total of 19 days, well short of the typical 35 to 50 day nursing duration.
They said it was clear that intervention was critical to ensure the pup’s survival.
“As we do with all our monk seal moms and pups, we worked hard to ensure Rocky had a successful nursing period. We did everything we could to keep Rocky and her pup together, but despite our best efforts, Rocky stopped nursing her pup and we had to intervene to save the pup’s life,” Jamie Thomton, the Kauai Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator with NOAA said.
The pup was moved this past Saturday ahead of anticipated weather conditions that would make a transport impossible.
Officials say the baby is malnourished but is stable and is being fed through tubes until it can eat on its own.
They’re hopeful the pup will get strong enough to eventually be released back into the wild.