Hō‘ailona’s Health & Science Updates


July 2011  ~

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Hō‘ailona continues to swim down the path of success as he accomplishes goal after goal set for him!

Hō‘ailona has been extremely busy over the past several months with learning even more behaviors, participating in science that will help conserve his species, and by yet again touching the hearts of many visitors.  This very special seal has impressed everyone and has many people excited about all that he is contributing.

Hō‘ailona stationing on a chin station to allow his veternarians to perform an eye exam.

As previously mentioned, Hō‘ailona had completed the training required for another comprehensive eye exam to be conducted.  Hō‘ailona did very well during the exam, providing the doctors with the information they needed to make their recommendations.  These recommendations have been given to NOAA/NMFS and various veterinarians from all over the United States, in order to determine what is best for Hō‘ailona overall.

In May, we celebrated Hō‘ailona’s 3rd birthday.  In attempts to make the day stand out to him, Hō‘ailona was given all his “favorite” toys and various items to interact with.  His trainers and caregivers gave him numerous training sessions and opportunities to interact with people in unique ways.  Hō‘ailona appeared to enjoy the efforts from everyone as he basked in the sun and relaxed at his pool’s edge allowing the warm water to lap up on his flippers.

(NMFS Permit No. 932-1905)

After his birthday day off, Hō‘ailona continued to work on making contributions to Hawaiian monk seal conservation.  The various projects he is participating in are providing information not previously known about Hawaiian monk seals, especially young seals going through their adolescence.  Hō‘ailona participates in these projects daily and with each data point he helps us collect, we all become very excited for what it means for the entire Hawaiian monk seal species.

One of the many outstanding attributes Hō‘ailona possesses is his extreme level of desensitization.  An animal that is well desensitized, “goes with the flow” and has the ability to experience any new situation without becoming anxious.  Hō‘ailona exemplifies this to the extreme.  His trainers continue to work with Hō‘ailona to maintain this great characteristic by exposing him to new environments, sounds, smells, and textures.  With each new stimulus, Hō‘ailona investigates it with his famous curious personality and ultimately gives it his seal of approval.  The relationship he has built with his trainers allows Hō‘ailona to trust them and this partnership continues to help him achieve great things.

Hō‘ailona had many visitors over the past several months, some of which were his first Aunties and Uncles that helped raise him from pup hood.  It was great to see many of the familiar faces that helped care for Hō‘ailona in the beginning and it was also great to be able to showcase all that he has accomplished during his visit to Santa Cruz.  As always, Hō‘ailona greeted his guests with Aloha and a very gracious demeanor.

Hō‘ailona has started another endeavor to make unique connections with children here in Santa Cruz with an interest in the marine sciences.  He is participating in demonstrations highlighting the work he is accomplishing while in Santa Cruz and also highlighting the issues Hawaiian monk seals face in today’s oceans.  The goal of Hō‘ailona participating in these types of demonstrations is multifold.  One, it will better prepare him for his future life when he moves home to Hawaii and one of its unique institutions which participate in daily public demonstrations.  And two, it allows

As Hō‘ailona travels closer to the time where he will be returning home, we marvel at all that he has accomplished.  We thank everyone who is helping Hō‘ailona return back to Hawaii and hope that everyone always keeps his best interest at the forefront of every decision.

Hō‘ailona expressing a greeting of Aloha to some of his first caregivers

(NMFS Permit No. 932-1905)

(NMFS Permit No. 932-1905)

Hō‘ailona expressing his calm demeanor in front of a large 30 foot water tower.

(NMFS Permit No. 932-1905)

Hō‘ailona being an ambassador for his species by helping educated the next generation of marine scientists.

Hō‘ailona to truly be an ambassador for his species and to touch the minds of the next generation of global conservationists.  Hō‘ailona has been very successful with these demonstrations and he will continue to build upon his many talents.

(NMFS Permit No. 932-1905)

Hō‘ailona interacting with his daily enrichment items.