Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Mar 30th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals