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This is the third installment of TheTestimony of Dr. George R. Harker in response to PEIS 
regarding the research and enhancement program for Hawaiian monk seals in the Hawaiian Islands.


(For PDF copy of the Testimony  I click here) This is the first installment submitted.prior to November 15, 2010

Further and second installment of PEIS testimony of Dr. George R. Harker. Thirty-four pages of field notes and the annotated listing of raw video's
covering the growth of Koki the Monk Seal born October 9, 2009 just outside Hana, Hawaii. The most comprehensive
look at the growth and development available on a Hawaiian Monk Seal ever. PDF copy of Some Observations on
a Monk Seal Mother and Pup, Field Notes of Observations of Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) click here
.


This is the third installment of PEIS testimony of Dr. George R. Harker. The circumstances associated with the "taking" of Monk Seals KP2 and RO44 are discussed. And the impact of those takings on the breeding population of Hawaiian Monk Seals is examined.

(For PDF copy of Testimony III click here)


PEIS Testimony by Dr. George R. Harker, submitted by email November 30, 2010

NOAA tells us that Monk Seals are “sensitive to human interaction” so why are they
systematically subjecting them to that interaction?

There are approximately 100 individual seals known to NOAA in the main Hawaiin Islands.

KP2 What really happened? And perhaps more importantly what happened to his mom?

The general story line put out for public consumption is something like this: KP2 was abandoned
by his mother. Fortunately NOAA was watching and picked him up to take care of him. He was
successfully raised at Kewalo Research Facility on Oahu.

After eight months of captivity he was released at Kalaupapa on Molokai. After a few days he
showed up at Kaunakakai Wharf and found some new friends that weren’t seals.

KP2 was too friendly for his own good and was recaptured by NOAA. He was found to have
cataracts and it was deemed necessary to keep him permanently in captivity.(Source
www.themonksealproject.com/?p=872)


KP2 Another interpretation of events and what really happened based on the NOAA source . The
real tragedy of this story is not KP2 but the loss of RK22 a young female just entering the
reproductive phase of her life and the impact of “takes” on the general seal population.

A year earlier in 2007 KP2's mother RK22 had her first pup under the watchful eye of NOAA
personnel. NOAA felt that the relationship between mom and pup was not going the way it was
supposed to go. They got actively involved moving the baby about trying to put it closer to mom
and so forth,   Keep in mind NOAA literature describes the mom pup relationship at this stage as
very tenuous and that human interaction will result in the mom abandoning the pup.

“A year earlier, RK22 had given birth to her first pup, a female. At that time, RK22 showed no
interest in her pup, even when the newborn cried out for her. NOAA officials tried desperately to
get mom and pup together. They placed the pup within visual range of RK22, but she swam
away. They tried again. Nothing. By the fifth day NOAA took the pup and gave her an
examination. She was emaciated and weak. The only humane thing left to do, they concluded,
was to euthanize the pup. (Source www.themonksealproject.com/?p=872)

Why NOAA has injected itself into the pup rearing process at such an early stage? They know
the mom is having its first pup. It is a learning process for the seal as it responds to programed
behavior evolved over thirteen million years of the species existence. Note that in the description
they have provided they are actively moving the pup about when it is only a day or two old!

The literature indicates that “the pup does not nurse immediately after birth” (Adrienne Garbiel,
Chapter 10 Monk Seals Monachus Fleming 1822, CZMT-0636-DE1, Oceanographic Center
Nova Southeastern University.)

At day five they took the pup away from her mom. After examination they decided the pup was
weak and emaciated and the only humane thing to do was to euthanize it.   

So what has happened here? NOAA has injected itself into the birthing of a monk seal by a
totally inexperience mother from the onset.  NOAA doesn’t know what is supposed to happen,
Mother monk seal is trying to figure things out but is not given a chance. Before you can say,
“Monk seals are sensitive to human interaction” fifty times and really let this sink in and
understand what it means the seal pup is grabbed and place near its mom within sight distance.
This handling of the pup is done repeatedly! Mom is probably confused by the human scent
associated with what she thought was her offspring which should have smelled like her.
                                                
In a study reported by William G. Gilmartin, Responses of Hawaiian Monk Seals to Human
Disturbance and Handling.  “In the mid 1960s research conducted... at Kure by Wirtz(1968)
was also a likely contributing factor in the high loss of pups during his two years of field work
there. He assessed pup survival and found that only one of the 62 pups born in 1964-65 survived
to one year of age. His research, however, involved repeated handling of nursing pups which
would have caused a high level of disturbance not only to the mother-pup pairs, but to other seals
hauled on the beaches as well.” (emphasis added)
 
NOAA would have the public believe that Monk Seals are solitary critters and once the pup is
weaned have no interaction.  There is no bond between animals! Not true! Mother knew, and the
other seals knew that one of their kind had died after being taken from its mother by humans.

Move forward to May 1, 2008 KP2 born. On the first day, “A year later it was happening all over
again. And this time the instructions to Olry from her bosses were very clear. Give the mother
and pup a day to reunite. If that fails, rescue him.” Emphasis added. (Source
www.themonksealproject.com/?p=872)


Again note: The literature indicates that “the pup does not nurse immediately after birth”
(Adrienne Garbiel, Chapter 10 Monk Seals Monachus Fleming 1822, CZMT-0636-DE1,
Oceanographic Center Nova Southeastern University.)

Veterinarian Greg Levine is called in to take the pup. Ironically the photograph shows the mother
vocalizing and defending the “abandoned” pup from the vet. Levine has to exercise a strategy to
extricate the “abandoned” pup from its mom. (Source www.themonksealproject.com/?p=872)

KP2 moved to Kewalo Research Facility on Oahu with Levine. Early on the seal develops cornea
edema. At the 4th annual NMFS Hawaiian Monk Seal & Cetacean Stranding Response Network
Meeting presentation Dr. Greg Levine talks about Hawaiian Monk Seal “KP2"

In that talk it sounds like their was some improvement and thus KP2 was released eight months
after his initial capture. Levine talks about this cataracts problem being commonly found in
captive marine mammals. I would learn later from a variety of other sources that most marine
mammals in captivity are blind.

I also heard at this conference reports that KP2's mother may be in area and pregnant. The
identification was not positive and it could be another seal.

Marine Mammal Response Network Activity Update, September-December 2009 #13 page 2
Table 1 Summary of main Hawaiian island monk seal births in 2009 does not show any for
RK22. I have been unable to located any additional information on this seal. She no longer
appears to be part of the breeding population.

KP2 is released at Kalaupapa, Molokai on December 15, 2008. Within weeks he had made his
way around to Kaunakakai Wharf.

October 16, 2009 KP2 is recaptured and taken back to Oahu. In the Monk Seal Project Report
there is much talk and speculation about how KP2's behavior will eventually lead to death or
serious injury of someone in the future. This idea that the seal is “too friendly for its own good”
will be the basis for this take and others done by NOAA.

Reviewing the literature and talking with many people about their encounters with monk seals I
have found nothing to suggest that seals are dangerous. I have talked with a number of people
that have had their arm or even their head within the jaws of a monk seal and suffered no ill
effects. (Yes I said “head.” Told to me by scuba diver who had quite an enjoyable time playing
with the well known Humpy the monk seal.)

This Matra of “too friendly” will become the rally point for justifying the “Take” of RO42. A
two year old seal mothered by RO15. I would get to know this mother seal in October of 2009
when she came over to Maui to have her eight pup at Koki Beach on October 9, 2009. (For a
more complete look at the rearing go:   Some Observations on
a Monk Seal Mother and Pup, Field Notes of Observations of Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) click here
.


The “take” of RO15's daughter occurred eight months before Koki was born outside Hana. In
preparing these comments and researching the KP2 story I found reference to RO42 in the 4th
Annual Stranding meeting previously referenced. I had video of a number of sessions. Reviewing
the video I found numerous reference to RO15 and her offspring. As I am understanding things
RO15 was the matriarchal head of the Big Island enclave of seals. Referred to as the “Mother of
all seals” by various presenters. Her offspring were the problem for NOAA and others apparently
not familiar with Hawaiian monk seal behavior, ie. that they are by nature very friendly animals.

David Schofield, NOAA reported on the details of snatching RO42 and taking her to the
Northern Hawaiian Islands. Volunteers were pleased to be involved in helping to “save” this
troubled juvenile seal from a life of friendly cohabitation with humans in the Main Hawaiian
Island. (  http://monksealmania.blogspot.com/  )

The loss of this maturing young female to the breeding population is one aspect of damage to the
monk seal restoration project. The more significant issue is the impact on the main breeding
colony of seals on the Big Island. The successful reproduction of seals on the island of Hawaii
was brought to an end! Mother RO15 was successfully driven off the island after seven pups.

She went to the island of Maui. She had her 8th pup there. She was cordoned off and “protected”
intensely for two months. Their was even talk of snatching and moving Koki before he became
“too friendly.”

Mother weaned the pup and continued to maintain contact with him in the months to follow
contrary to NOAA belief that mom’s break that contact with their young.   Some Observations on
a Monk Seal Mother and Pup, Field Notes of Observations of Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) click here
.


Apparently the intensity and scrutiny of NOAA on Maui encouraged RO15 to return to the Big
Island. Reports from NOAA to me at the scooping meeting indicate that mom is fourteen miles
up a stream bed in a remote area.

Based on my observations of mom and her pup rearing capabilities this new location can not
work. Mother and pup need direct access to the ocean for successful rearing.

It appears to me that RO15 has been lost to the breeding and reproducing sector of the Hawaiian
Monk Seal population.

Conclusions and Recommendations

It can already be shown that the involvement of NOAA in “protecting and helping” the monk
seal has resulted in dramatic negative impacts on virtually every island in the main Hawaiian
Islands. Loss of new mother RK22 in Kauai. KP2 snatching in Molokai. Driving RO15 off the
Big Island.

Other examples of a systematic approach to the destruction of the Hawaiian Monk Seal are the
placement of transmitters on seals through out the islands. The program of cordoning off seals
that come into any accessible beach by eggar helpful volunteers under color of NOAA permit.
Annually bleach marking seals previously identified by tags that can be identified by natural
markings such as cookie cutter shark bites and natural color variation patterns.  The level of
sustained human interaction with monk seals has never been higher.

And the seals are paying for it with their lives!

Dr. George R. Harker November 29, 2010





DOCUMENTARY

KOKI THE MONK SEAL PUP BORN OCTOBER 9, 2009

Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi)

This is a collection of videos that document the life of Koki a monk seal born on Koki Beach out of Hana on the island of Maui. What makes them unique is that Koki narrates them. He does this by channelling through Dr Leisure.  The embedded video is a playlist of a series that appear on YouTube.com.




Dr. Leisure® P.O. Box 1137, Kihei, Maui, HI 96753 
phone: 808-250-4160 
e-mail: DrLeisure1@aol.com
World Wide Web: http://www.drleisure.com/

Dr. Leisure is the trademark of internationally known cyberspace philosopher Dr. George R. Harker who resides on Maui. 

Entire contents are copyright by Dr. George R. Harker 1997 -- 2010