Friday, October 4, 2013

10-4-2012 Maka'iwi UPDATE!

Aloha Good People!
The following message/letter is from Dr. Michelle giving us an official update and explanation of Maka'iwi condition. (Photos were taken today by Team Billand) THANK YOU Doc for taking the time and explaining the details to us... YOU already know how much we appreciate it.

Aloha Everyone,
I know that you have all been closely following Makaiwi over the past 3 weeks, and it is with gratitude that I write to you with some information about her state of health, which continues to improve.  Sincere thanks to those of you that were willing to help us help this seal.  Without your assistance, our ability to evaluate and respond to her needs would have been much more difficult.

Makaiwi has been steadily recovering from a widespread infection beneath the skin (also called an abscess) on her back.  In her case, there were multiple abscesses that contained different pockets of infected tissue, cells and bacteria (called "pus").  Makaiwi's reluctance to haul out was probably driven by pain.   When hauled out, her body weight would have pulled on and added pressure to those abscessed areas, so pain probably drove her to seek some relief using the buoyancy of the water.  So Makaiwi did what we would hope any injured seal would do: rest, away from (perceived) danger, and allow her injuries to heal.  In retrospect, she essentially "hospitalized" herself in the harbor!

Initially, we were all a bit puzzled by the appearance of some of her abscesses, but as she heals, we are able to see that her affliction is similar to the injuries and scars that result when Hawaiian monk seals fight with each other.  Abscesses most often form in the presence of bacteria, like those transmitted from the mouth during a bite. Bites are often deep puncture wounds, which are difficult to see from the outside, but introduce bacteria deep within the tissues.  There, they proliferate, in addition to cells from the body's immune system, which is trying to fight the infection.  Eventually, abscesses often rise to the skin surface, open and drain (as occurred in Makaiwi's case).  Other types of trauma (such as a shark bite or blunt force trauma) typically do not introduce or trap bacteria deep beneath the skin and thus do not tend to cause abscesses.

Still, Makaiwi's wounds are quite unsightly.  In fact, as they started to rupture and drain (which was an encouraging part of the healing process!) they looked worse before they got better.  The team was also able to give her antibiotics to help her along in the healing process and prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of her body.

Unfortunately, this sort of injury is all too often seen in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, most commonly on subadult and adult seals.  It can occur during the mating season, but doesn't always.  Mating scratches are indeed present on Makaiwi's body, further suggestive that these wounds were a result of a seal-seal interaction. She is expected to make a full recovery, but thanks again to many of you, we will be keeping a close watch on her for the forseeable future.

Many mahalos,
Veterinarian (NOAA PIFSC and The Marine Mammal Center)

Amazing how quick this is coming along
 so good she is getting rest


barbara said...

Thanks Doc for explaining all about the Makaiwi Injuries. Since Sept 13th, we did our best to follow her movement.

She stayed in the harbor for 16 days, then moved to Campbells where she finally landed to air her body. That find was a huge thrill as we could finally see her whole body and all of the injuries.

I do think after two shots of antibiotics, that got her to heal showed pretty much, IMMEDIATELY.

Then she went missing for one week and was found once more in Makaha. Deb and I spent most of the day with her till 6pm. She was trying so heal herself, staying on shore, drying up in the heat of the sun. The rains came, cleaned the wound even more with the hard hitting rain drops. After the rain, the wound was no longer....YELLOW. It turned pink.

Today thanks to some folks out at Waialua, and Lesley for telling us about her hauling out out there...we went to visit her one more time. Seeing her today, made us feel, RELIEVED!!! The wound so pink, smaller looking...drying. And I thought in some shots I could see hair folicals sprouting. Wow...two anibiotic shots and Makaiwi was on her way to recovery. looked so good. She dont moan or bark any more..she is very alert. She seems at peace.

We did observe her movement a little while out there with her. Seems, turning is tuff, bending her back to move...tuff. But with her determination, she will heal and be a happy seal soon.

And a Plastic Surgeon stopped to see our seal, injured there on shore. He looked at her with Binoculars. His comments..I am a plastic surgeon, I see skin wounds all the time and this wound is shrinking, pulling inward, healing. Both Rob and I felt hopeful, relieved talking to the Surgeon.

Today I can honestly say, Our Makaiwi, R4DF...will be fine...she will have that horrible scar on her body...but she will....LIVE.

Truely an amazing few weeks with a Hawaiian Monk Seal, who has the move on, LIVE.

Thanks god, thanks Rob, Doc and Noaa team..for giving her a chance to maybe one day have her own pup in the future. I am filled with .... HOPE.

Love to are so very special to us all. Blessings.

In our years of Monk Seal observations...this is the second seal who has taught matter how hard life got to keep....TRYING...NEVER GIVE UP.

The first seal to teach me this...was our beloved ... Sharkbite T15M...I think of him all the time.

barbara said...

I thought about Sept 19 at KoOlina, at Lagoon 4. Makaiwi had hauled out. I got the call from Linda Stentan, there is a seal on shore per my friend. Its too dark to see if its Makaiwi she said.

Rob and I flew out to Lagoon 4, there she was on shore, snoozing her heart away. I saw the security team there with Linda's friend. We talked about roping off the half of that lagoon so the NOAA team could come and take care of her.

I called Dera, who was awesome and got the team out there as I couldnt reach Tracy.

I called Diane Tekai, who I miss, Vera Cober, Jean Jasina, Laurie Finley all came out to help with the crowd. The Aloha team got more security out to help...Thanks guys.

Without all of YOU, we couldnt have gotten this done..Thanks from my heart, for being there for Makaiwi.

madhatter said...

Great news about Makaiwi!

madhatter said...

Wow, I'm glad that Makaiwi's condition is getting better. Also the explanation of her injury cleared things up for me.
I love this blog about the Monk Seals,and have only been following for about 2 months when I learned about it. The pictures are awesome as well as the volunteer's who keep these seals safe. I just ran across a lot of information about Hoailona I had only read the book about him but it's cool seeing the pictures and learning about his travels. He is the reason that I learned about Monk Seals and fell in love with them too.

Donna said...

i am happy to see Maka'iwi is doing great and especially happy to see people exchanging their thoughts and comments here to.
This is one of the benefits of the blog.
Madhatter (MH) so happy you found us... Yes... If you search for Ho'ailona or KP2 you should be able to pull up some old information about him... We all watched him grow up... and followed his story. Quite famous that little bugger!