The pup was born in late June to RH58, a monk seal known more commonly as Rocky to researchers who have been watching her for more than 15 years. Rocky usually has returned to her birthplace on Kauai to have her own pups, but this time she chose the popular Waikiki beach at Kaimana. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say it’s the first seal to be born in the densely populated part of Oahu since they started tracking the seals 40 years ago.
The public has shown a tremendous interest in the birth. A video we shot soon after the pup was born got more than 65,000 views on Facebook.
So we decided to set up our first-ever webcam and give people the opportunity to just watch as the baby grows. Wildlife webcams have become popular over the years and we hope this one proves to be the same.
We asked a resident of one of the nearby buildings to allow us to use his balcony for this project. It turned out a volunteer with Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance, Steve Denner, had a great view and worked with us to set up a camera and laptop on his balcony.
For you techies, we’re using a Canon XF100 camcorder connected to a Mac laptop to provide the stream. We’re also using Wirecast software to encode the livestream and push to both Facebook and YouTube.
Besides just giving the public a chance to see what’s happening with this endangered species — there are only about 1,400 monk seals left in the wild — scientists and activists are hoping to learn as much as they can from observations through the livestream.
The area on Kaimana is fenced off to give the seals some extra space and to avoid endangering the public. Rocky will fight to protect her baby. But researchers are asking people on the beach to send them photos and video of the seals, like this clip of Rocky attacking a stray beach ball.
The mom and baby are expected to stick close to Kaimana while the pup is nursing, about five to seven weeks. In that time, researchers say, the pup will grow rapidly.
Our livestream isn’t perfect, of course. We don’t have a dedicated camera person on location all day although Steve Denner is doing his best to change the camera angle to get the best view of the seals.
Sometimes, they’ll go out of view of the camera — resting in a large area or out of side below the building ledge, or even just out swimming off the beach.
But if you’re patient, you’ll see them.
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