First Hawaiian monk seals of 2018 born on Lanai, Big Island

FILE - This June 29, 2017 file photo shows a Hawaiian monk seal and her newborn pup on a Waikiki beach in Honolulu. The first two Hawaiian monk seals pups of 2018 have been born. One was was born on Lanai and the other on the Big Island, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

HONOLULU — The first two Hawaiian monk seals pups of 2018 have been born.

One was was born on Lanai and the other on the Big Island, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Stacie Robinson, research ecologist for the National Association and Atmospheric Association's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, said the Lanai pup is a female, born Jan. 6. The Big Island seal is also a female, born Feb. 8.

Robinson said others could have been born on Niihau and elsewhere, but these two pups are the first to be documented and photographed.

"We have pups that are born in every month of the year," Robinson said. "We tend to have a peak in the spring or summer, but they do pop up year-round."

Robinson said the pups appear to be healthy and doing well.

She said the pup on Lanai recently weaned from its mother, while the pup on the Big Island is still nursing.

A recent study by NOAA found that the Hawaiian monk seal population remained stable in 2017, with close to 1,400 seals.

Last year was also a good year for monk seal pups, with 161 counted in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and 34 in the main Hawaiian isles.

The monk seal population remains just over one-third of historic levels from the 1950s, NOAA said, meaning more work in recovering the endangered species remains.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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