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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mahalo, KP2!!!!

Left, KP2 is outfitted with a satellite tag before his release. Right, a Marine Mammal Center volunteer monitors KP2 prior to release. Photos courtesy NOAA.

The Center has some very exciting news to share. KP2, an endangered male Hawaiian monk seal pup hand-reared from birth, has been released! He was flown by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on December 15th to a protected beach on the island of Molokai, a sheltered area for monk seals, and set free there. You may recall that the abandoned seal was rescued in Kauai on May 2nd. For the past eight months, a dedicated team of trained people have been responsible for his care. The payoff for their hard work came during KP2's release as caretakers were happy to see KP2 enter the water without so much as a backward glance. He spent about 3 hours playing and foraging in tide pools before heading out to deeper water in a protected cove where he was seen diving, foraging, and eating for several hours. After the team lost a visual on him, the satellite tag he had been outfitted with got a reading on the 16th from an area near the release point.

It is deeply gratifying for the team of volunteers, veterinarians, and scientists from The Marine Mammal Center, NOAA Fisheries, and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center that have worked hard to care for KP2 with the goal of returning him to the wild, where he can hopefully contribute to the population. The Hawaiian monk seal population has dwindled to only 1,100 and is declining at a rate of 4% a year, so the successful rehabilitation of even one animal is a tremendous achievement toward the conservation efforts of this species.

Read all about KP2’s journey from birth to release here. KP2 will be monitored via his satellite tag. We will keep you posted on any news!


Ethan said...

Congrats!! That is really amazing. The Marine Mammal Center's dedicated staff certainly made a difference in KP2's life.

Barbara said...

Hi,I have to tell all that my husband and I met and worked with three very intelligent ladies from the Marine Mammal Center. Aubrey ST.Marie , Marie Destafanes and Mizusu ?. Together they taught us alot on how to deal with a pup and what to look for. We learned how to feed KP2,without eye contact, hidden behind a fence and palm fronds. I so appreciate these three twonderful ladies with all my heart. It was an honor to meet them in Hawaii. You are fortunate to have Aubrey , Mizusu and Marie as your workers.They make a fantastic team to work with and was always at KP2's site bright and early to late evening all those days and months.My husband Robert and I will never forget Aubrey Mizusu and Marie's outstanding work and friendship!! THey showed such compassion, patients, knowledge and was always willing to do all they could for KP2. We have had updates of KP2 hanging around a Harbor and landed on the pier to sleep for days. He finally left and is still somewhere at the harbor area. He is ok. The experience will remain as an outstanding event forever. Three ladies, a seal pup called KP2, Loyal volunteers, and NOAA, and the Vets, all took part in an awesome event. KP2 will remain in my soul forever!!! THanks to you all!!! Mahalo and Aloha!!!