The Hawaiian monk seal on Laysan Island, 1988
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The Hawaiian monk seal on Laysan Island, 1988
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    The endangered Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, was studied on Laysan Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands from 28 February to 20 June and from 24 October to 13 November 1988. Data were collected on haul-out patterns, population structure, reproductive patterns, and factors affecting survival (primarily adult male aggression toward adult female and immature seals). Census counts including pups ranged from 73 to 128 seals (x̄ = 105); counts excluding pups ranged from 61 to 116 seals (x̄ = 87). There were 331 individual seals identified (286 excluding pups). All weaned pups and 41 adult males were tagged, and 3 subadults were retagged. Minimum first-year survival of tagged 1987 pups was 86%. At least 45 pups were born (24 males, 19 females, and 2 of unknown sex), and 40 survived to weaning. This represents the highest number of births documented on Laysan Island since extensive research began in 1977. Average nursing period was 39-40 days. Exchanges of pups were observed 17 times between 14 nursing females. Adult female reproductive rate was at least 61%. Of the 45 parturient females observed, 31 were identifiable from previous years. Average time between births in successive years was 382 days. This season, three 5-year-olds and a 22-year-old pupped, representing the youngest and oldest ages at parturition on record. One seal was observed giving birth, and two were observed immediately following parturition. In 1988, interatoll movement was documented for 11 seals, which moved between Laysan Island and Lisianski Island or French Frigate Shoals. At least 92 injuries were sustained across all age groups. Seven seals were found entangled in debris and were released by observers. In all, 485 items of debris were inventoried and destroyed. At least 17 seals disappeared during the 1988 field season. Nothing unusual was noted before 12 of these disappearances, but circumstantial evidence indicates 5 were probably deaths. In addition, at least 14 seals died. Adult male aggression resulted in 35 injuries, 4 probable deaths, and 7 khown deaths. [doi:10.7289/V5/TM-SWFSC-151 (]
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