The Hō'ike ā Maka project wanted to encourage and help develop the next generation of Hawaii's research and conservation biologists to help understand, protect and manage Hawaii's natural resources into the future.
The team selected two Hawaii high school students to come into the field and actually participate in the research and collaborate with video analysis. This was a rare opportunity for students to witness Hawaii marine mammal research and conservation firsthand.
Our second day of hiking to La’au would prove to have fewer seals than the previous day (only 10!) but we were incredibly successful. The morning started out with almost no seals on the beach. In fact, the first seal we would see was almost at the end of our hike but happily was a great candidate for a Crittercam. He was also HUGE. We found R306 tucked up against a rock in a quiet corner of the beach and his peaceful repose belied the impressive 425+ lbs of muscle and blubber he carried.
La’au Point on Molokai is renowned for its naturally beauty, isolation, and excellent fishing. It is also one of the best places to see monk seals…lots of ‘em. On our first day of work on Molokai we saw 13 seals on the trek. In fact, at one point we saw 5 seals piled up within a few feet of each other putting into doubt the claims of the solitary nature of these “monk” seals.
After a successful trip to Kauai the team took a short break to prep for work on Molokai. We have been here since Feb 11 and trying to put out at least 3 cameras on the seals here. An exciting development with the National Geographic Crittercams is the shiny new and TINY systems they supplied us with.
It has been a while since we have sent an update, but we are back in the field putting out the National Geographic Crittercams. We started this deployment season on Kauai. As is usually the case on Kauai, the seals were difficult to find despite the heroic efforts of partners and volunteers scouring the beaches at all hours. Many nooks and crannies were searched and we didn’t find a good candidate until the proverbial 11th hour.