It’s always great news when a new baby animal is born, especially when they’re part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a sign of hope and a step towards repopulating.
While endangered animals are often born in zoos as part of conservation programs, it’s an amazing, rare experience to see an endangered species born in the wild.
But recently, the birth of a Hawaiian monk seal was caught on camera, capturing its first moments of life as it bonds with its mom.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, Hawaiian elephant seals are one of only two mammals native to Hawaii, and the only marine mammal found solely in U.S. waters.
They’re also, unfortunately, endangered — both from tiger sharks, who prey on young seals, and by humans, via overfishing, net entanglements and inadequate marine regulations. There are now only 1,100 left in the wild, NWF reports.
But recently, one Hawaiian monk seal gave birth on a beach in Oahu, and the beautiful moment was caught on camera.
According to a post from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the mother seal, known as “RN58,” had been observed by Lesley Macpherson of the department after it looked like the seal was ready to give birth.
On April 9, Macpherson and some volunteers witnessed as the seal went into labor. Video shows the moments the baby seal emerges from an amniotic sac, and the mom looks on with pride.
“As soon as its sac burst, the little one starting wiggling around. Mom checked on it by vocalizing. He was able to move fast,” Macpherson wrote in the news release.
The newborn baby seal was eager to explore the world. Mcpherson says that just 20 minutes after being born, it scaled a rock.
“It was 20-minutes old when it made it to the rock. Mom was on the other side vocalizing. The pup took three-long minutes to scale it.”
The DLNR team continued to observe the mother and child seals, and say that on day 5 the mom was “out cold” after a long day of nursing.
The newborn cub, known as PO5, was one of two Hawaiian monk seal pups born on Oahu last week, a positive sign for the endangered species. However, three pups born earlier this year died due to “undetermined causes.”
The Hawaii DLNR stressed that it was important for humans and their pets to keep a healthy distance from these animals, who come on land to rest and to give birth.
“It’s really important, especially during rearing and weaning, that people respect the boundaries set up to protect these seal pairs and to keep their dogs on leashes at all times,” said Ryan Jenkinson, Protected Species Program Lead for the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, saying one new mom recently survived a dog attack while weaning her newborn.
Having this seal’s birth and first moments caught on camera really is an incredible sight, and the team hopes that it will inspire more people to care about the Hawaiian monk seal.
“So many people are passionate about protecting monk seals and it was exciting to witness the birth of PO5 and to be able share it with others,” Mcpherson said. “My hope is that when people see these images, they’ll too become passionate about protecting all our creatures.”
What an amazing moment! Congrats to this mama seal on a successful birth — this newborn is a step towards saving this endangered species.
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