Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Dec 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Say Aloha to Hō‘ailona

blog_slugRare Hawaiian monk seal now calls Long Marine Lab home
Meet UC Santa Cruz’s newest student--a two-year-old Hawaiian monk seal named Hō‘ailona. Like any freshman, he’s adjusting to his new environment, making friends, and even has his own Facebook page. However, his curriculum is a little different than that of the average student--Hō‘ailona is learning to participate in scientific research that can provide critical data for the conservation of endangered monk seals.

National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) scientists rescued Hō‘ailona from a Kaua‘i beach in May 2008, after he’d been abandoned by his mother. They cared for him and then released him back to the wild on the island of Moloka‘i in December 2008. The transition back into the wild did not go smoothly; Hō‘ailona had become habituated to humans and preferred hanging out at the wharf and interacting with people to being with his fellow seals. As he grew bigger, his interactions with people became a threat to his own and the public’s safety.     In November 2009, NOAA officials had to remove Hō‘ailona from Moloka‘i, intending to relocate him to a remote Hawaiian location where he could interact with numerous seals and few people. But while prepping him for the move, veterinarians discovered that Hō‘ailona had a serious eye condition that could threaten his chances of survival in the wild. Instead of heading back into the wild, Hō‘ailona was transferred to UCSC’s Long Marine Laboratory. Currently, a team of scientists and veterinarians are evaluating Hō‘ailona to assess his overall health and to determine the appropriate treatment plan for the cataracts in both of his eyes.

While in California, Hō‘ailona is also serving as a valuable source of information that can help with the conservation of monk seals. Monk seals are a critically endangered species, with only 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild. The Mediterranean monk seal, the only other existing monk seal species since the Caribbean monk seal went extinct, has only about 500 individuals remaining.

Researchers are taking advantage of this rare opportunity to learn more about monk seals’ physiology and health. Terrie Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC, is overseeing the research in coordination with NOAA, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, and other researchers. They’re conducting basic metabolic studies to better understand how much energy it takes for a monk seal to find food in different environments. This information, plus data from wild monk seals, will allow researchers to evaluate the suitability of different habitats for wild seals, knowledge that can help with conservation efforts. They’re also looking at Hō‘ailona’s responses to different water temperatures, which may show how sensitive monk seals are to changes in ocean temperature (and thus how much the species may be affected by climate change).

UCSC scientists have dedicated a website to the seal (monkseal.ucsc.edu), called “Hō‘ailona’s Journey”, and update it monthly with Hō‘ailona’s latest achievements and their observations. They will also hold a Mother’s Day walk and run to benefit monk seal research. Finish Line Productions and the Seymour Discovery Center are sponsoring the May 910K race. Williams encourages participation, and hopes for a large turnout. “We’re going to try to get 1,100 people, one for every monk seal left in Hawaii,” she says. See the above website for more details.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire