Here, our newest member of the Hawaiian monk seal family is 8 days old. In the first week, the pup does not stray far from mom–nor mom from the pup. As the pup circumnavigates mom, it strengthens its flippers. As it calls out to mom when its hungry, it strenthens it lungs. Both efforts prepare it for its first swim. Mom introduced the pup to the shallow water this week.
On my pup-sitting day, however, the seals were quiet. The wind blew and the rains fell so hard that the protective fence, set up to keep stray dogs and people away from the pup, fell over, the metal stakes holding it upright bent over at their base. It wasn’t a pleasant day at the beach, that’s for sure. I was soaked down to my undergarments. And, like the seals themselves, I was plastered with sand that the wind was throwing around. Because of the conditions, it seemed as if mom shielded her pup from the blasts and stayed tucked up by the naupaka bushes, away from the water. At this young age, I imagine the pup doesn’t have quite enough insulation yet to stay warm, so mom was its cozy blanket. I wish I had one.