Pualani, the beloved monk seal pup of Waikīkī, to be relocated after weaning
Pualani, the Hawaiian monk seal pup on Kaimana Beach in Waikīkī, is expected to be relocated to a more remote beach as early as this weekend.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is closely monitoring Pualani, who has become a local celebrity since her beach birth on April 14.
Her birth was celebrated with fourth grade students from Waikīkī Elementary School, who gave her the name “Pualani.”
Young monk seals wean from their mothers five to seven weeks after birth. It is common for pups to be relocated from busy areas to more remote shorelines so they learn to coexist among other wild species.
Diana Kramer, NOAA’s regional stranding coordinator, said the relocation also has to do with public safety.
"Older seals come up on Kaimana Beach and rest and typically kind of ignore people. With a young pup, because it's so curious, it's very likely that that pup could approach people," explained Kramer.
Monk seal mothers are protective of their pup and can inflict injuries on people. Pualani will be transported to a beach with less foot traffic once she separates from her protective mother.
"A young seal that receives positive interactions from people — attention, getting played with, getting fed — it will likely continue to seek out people for those interactions," Kramer said.
"And the problem with that is that it prevents a young seal pup from developing the wild behaviors it will need to survive," she said.
If a monk seal is seen resting on the beach, NOAA advises that the public maintains 50 feet of distance and keep dogs on a leash.
The NOAA regional hotline can be reached at 888-256-9840.