The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species

By Terrie M. Williams

Whilst a day-old Hawaiian monk seal puppy is attacked and deserted by way of his mom on a seashore in Kauai, environmental officers needs to come to a decision in the event that they may still keep the infant animal or let nature to take its direction. yet as a member of the main endangered marine mammal species in U.S. waters, Kauai domestic dog 2, or KP2, is simply too priceless to lose, and he embarks on an odyssey that might take him throughout an ocean to the one certified caretaker to simply accept the activity, eminent flora and fauna biologist Dr. Terrie M. Williams.

The neighborhood islanders see KP2 as an venerated member in their group, yet govt brokers and scientists needs to reflect on the $64000 position he may possibly play in collecting wisdom and information approximately this seriously endangered and infrequent species. simply 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals live to tell the tale within the wild; if their decline maintains with out intervention, they face convinced extinction inside fifty years. In a arguable selection, environmental officers ship KP2 to Williams's marine mammal lab in Santa Cruz, California, the place she and her staff display screen his failing eyesight and assemble an important facts that can aid keep KP2's species.

But whereas this younger seal is the topic of a posh environmental fight and excessive media scrutiny, KP2 can be a boisterous and affectionate animal who adjustments the lives of the people who recognize and deal with him-especially that of Williams. at the same time she unravels the key biology of monk seals through learning his habit and coaching him, Williams unearths a kindred spirit in his loving nature and resilient power. Their tale captures the common bond among people and animals and emphasizes the methods we aid and depend upon each other. The wellbeing and fitness of the world's oceans and the survival of individuals and creatures alike rely on this old connection.

The Odyssey of KP2 is an inside of examine the lifetime of a scientist and the position that her study performs within the improvement of conservation efforts, bringing our modern environmental panorama to existence. it's also the heartwarming portrait of a Hawaiian monk seal whose unforgettable character by no means falters, while his destiny hangs within the balance.

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To their credits, the 2 girls by no means shot down certainly one of my principles. They didn’t have to. there has been an easy try out that may confirm if free up again into the wild used to be even worthy discussing for KP2. First, he needed to go an eye fixed examination. The underlying cause of KP2’s trip to the mainland and my lab have been for the care of his eyes. He arrived with either corneas veiled grey and cloudy. for almost years my crew had medicated, shaded, and documented the cloudiness of his eyes. We stumbled on that extreme sun irritated his . On foggy days, his brown irises shone shiny and transparent and his visible conception appeared extra acute. by contrast, vivid sunny days prompted his eyes to seem milky and the seal depended on different sensory cues to aid him orient. The query remained: had our efforts and his persisted improvement been sufficient to stabilize his eyes and stave off surgical procedure, or may the seal finally pass blind? KP2’s destiny hung precariously at the overall healthiness of his eyes. whatever the passage of time and all his clinical contributions, attainable paths for the seal had replaced little considering he’d been captured at Kaunakakai Wharf: placement someplace in Hawaii, captivity at the mainland whereas looking forward to eye surgical procedure, or euthanasia if his eye situation indicated a life of ocular deterioration and distress. In my middle i wished KP2 to be published within the tropical waters of Hawaii. in spite of cloudy eyes he will be in a position to listen the rustle of palm tree fronds within the exchange winds and use his whiskers to seek for fish. i made a decision that i might discover each road if it intended an opportunity for him to dive one of the corals and back suppose the smooth, hot sand of an island seashore. additionally, i wished the seal to reexperience the posh of the nice and cozy blue waters that had as soon as been his domestic. probably it was once the swimmer in me that made me imagine this manner. As a lifeguard in the course of my collage days, i found the lightness and tool of water, and feature constantly questioned if marine mammals favored it, too. Water caresses your epidermis as you swim, and buoys you bodily and emotionally. I think the natural pleasure of having the ability to accomplish acrobatic leaps like a dolphin or high-speed, agile maneuvers like a seal or sea lion. Why else might they race throughout the water in such lively bursts, if now not for the sheer enjoyable of it? i think that swimming prowess is the key in the back of the dolphin’s smile. • • • STANDING IN KP2’S humid sealarium with water dripping on me and the ophthalmologist’s tools, I sweated extra in anticipation of the implications from the attention examination than from the temperature. This used to be it. We had introduced within the top marine mammal ultrasonographer on the planet. the following part of KP2’s existence held on the result of Cynthia Kendall’s exam. “He jogs my memory of a sufferer with cerebral palsy that I tested final week,” Cynthia famous as she attempted to place a pen-sized ultrasound probe on KP2’s left eyeball. Eschewing any kind of sedation, Traci and Beau had labored for months education KP2 to lie quietly for the attention examination.

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