Waimanu and her pup

A Hawaiian monk seal and her pup.

Waimanu is a monk seal who spends most of her time around the Big Island, one of the few to do so. She has given birth three times here, and recently gave birth to her fouth pup. She won’t leave her pup to feed until it’s ready to fend for itself, usually around six weeks. Because of this, she feeds up, ahead of giving birth, and attains enormous size.

The top photo shows the contrast between the huge mother seal and her small pup. Over the next six weeks, if all goes well, she’ll steadily lose weight while the pup will grow quite quickly. Eventually, the pup will lose it’s black coloration and look similar to its mother, the transformation complete.

A Hawaiian monk seal and her pup.

9 thoughts on “Waimanu and her pup

      1. Desi

        We were at the Park last week, witnessed the pup hungry for its mom’s attention, and we’re told “mom had not nursed the pup in 5 days. Due to her ginormous size, she couldn’t roll over.” Any update as to how both are doing? Mahalo.


        1. Graham Post author

          I’m sorry to say that the pup died. It’s not known what the cause was, but there will be a post-mortem examination. The organizer of volunteers at the park said reports from the day before described the pup as active and alert. He also said, “There have been some worries that the pup had not been nursing consistently, however the pup’s energetic behavior indicated that it was indeed thriving, and mom and pup’s behavior together indicated that the maternal bond was strong.” I don’t think her size prevented her from rolling over and feeding – the females always get that big because they have to store so much food for the birthing and feeding of the pup. If and when I hear the results of the post-mortem, I’ll add that info to this post (and/or do a new post with the info). However it could be a couple of months before the results are known. A very sad day indeed.


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