Hawaiian Monk Seals: Don’t Touch! Visitor Injured In Latest

Unfortunately, we are writing once again about an incident involving Hawaiian Monk Seals. The issue went viral after a nursing monk seal lunged at and injured a visiting California woman who swam too close by at Honolulu’s Kaimana Beach, referred to below. The visitor, who reports say may have been previously warned, is heard screaming before a paddle boarder rescues her.

We found watching the following video very upsetting.

NOAA said, “We and partners continue to strongly urge swimmers and beach goers to stay at least 150 feet away from mother seals with pups. While monk seals are generally not aggressive, mother seals can be very protective of their pups and have inflicted serious wounds on nearby swimmers. We urge people to consider using alternate areas for water activities when mothers with pups are in the area.”

We recently reported on two other Hawaiian Monk Seal incidents.

Both times visitors on Kauai disregarded the law, good sense, and safety precautions and approached a monk seal.

In one that made the national press, as seen in the video below, a couple was on their Kauai honeymoon when they approached and tried to pet an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. They claimed they did not know that what they did was wrong.

We were told that NOAA fined them, but we did not learn further details. Harassing or harming a Hawaiian Monk Seal is a felony with fines up to $50,000 and/or five years in prison.

The couple said, “We sincerely apologize if we offended any locals. The last thing we want to do is disrespect anyone or anybody’s culture or lifestyle. That’s something we’re really, really sorry about.”
The last time we wrote about a Hawaiian Monk Seal at Kaimana Beach.

It was a far happier event when a Hawaiian Monk Seal was born at Kaimana Beach, Waikiki. That was only the second seal to be born there. We, too, love that beach near the zoo in Waikiki. The perennial favorite has excellent swimming and is adjacent to the Waikiki Natatorium. It is popular with both locals and visitors. And now, apparently with Hawaiian monk seals, at least until yesterday

Hawaiian Monk Seals need their distance from us.

Your help is urgently needed to protect these most endangered seal species. DLNR maintains a hotline for any problems associated with monk seals at 888-256-9840.

30 thoughts on “Hawaiian Monk Seals: Don’t Touch! Visitor Injured In Latest”

  1. I’ve never been to any of the islands there and I learned something today.It’s unfortunate for the endangered animals and the not so thoughtful humans.I hope people learn to respect wildlife and marine life from a distance. Thank you for sharing these stories.

  2. I’m also thinking that many of these folks commenting do not spend time in the ocean-I do -I swim at rugged isolated places,always with complete respect and the knowledge of co existence with marine life-turtles often swim up to me,near and below me—it is not my intention to be near them,but because I am in i
    their environment we co -exist -so,will I be guilted ,demonized if I am seen near a turtle who chooses to swim near me?

  3. I respect the monk seals but this attack was unprovoked,stop demonizing her,the swimmer
    I could have been that swimmer ,on an early swim at Kalapaki Beach Kauai to the bouy,a monk seal chose to follow me,swim close to me,before it disappeared –

  4. And now the rest of the story.

    Hawaii State Investigators say the Monk Seal attack was unprovoked. The swimmer was part of a daily morning swim group of about 9 or 10 swimmers. The Monk seal, Rocky, was in distress calling for her missing pup which had swum in to he structure’s dilapidated pool. Rocky found the pup in the pool, but spotted the swimmers in the ocean and went after them unprovoked.

    The woman, a teacher, had knowledge of the pups birth and knew to stay 150 away form the seals

    Don’t jump to conclusions before getting the whole story.

  5. Hi. Just wanted to give you a heads up on rental cars from discount Hawaiian car rentals. I reserved a car about 3 weeks ago for a week in Kauai for mid May 2023. I got a reservation for mid size $275 for a week Same car today on site 875! Thanks for all your great news Andy

    1. Hi Andy.

      Thanks for the feedback on the ongoing Hawaii car rental situation. We too never know what to expect any longer.


  6. I volunteer on Oahu to provide outreach and information to the public when Hawaiian Monk Seals haul out. I’m never surprised by the disconnect so many people have with reality. These are beautiful, wild, protected animals. They don’t come out to entertain. Yet, many view them as ‘an attraction’. Worse or those who think ‘I love animals, they can sense it’. Please, follow the direction of posted signs or those of us on watch, airlines and tour companies should also be required to provide educational info to visitors prior to arrival. Aloha.

  7. Many monk seals have been injured or killed by those living in Hawaii, particularly in the 21st century. Yet l can’t recall any of these incidents where the criminal was caught and prosecuted. Why is that?

  8. We’ve observed Monk Seals 3x on Kauai from a respectful distance–just watching them sleep & rest. They’re magnificent. Sometimes there’s a volunteer guard with his lunch & a fence around. What the h__l was she thinking–or not. Hope she has big medical bills & a heavy fine & no-one will help her out on Go Fund the idiot. In CA @ Yosemite we often hear stories of deer mauling little kids who are trying to feed them @ the direction of a so-called parent or the man (who never should have been allowed to breed) putting a cookie on the seat of his car next to his small son so he could photograph the boy with a bear who of course was eager to have a cookie. Didn’t end well.
    Hi guys love the news from the Isla

  9. 100% should be arrested and heavily fined….some people in the world are Idiots! Don’t mess with a Mama Bear!!! Look at never-ending incidents across our National Parks, Yellowstone in particular….Unfortunately, you cannot Fix Stupid

  10. Aloha Rob+Jeff. Just saw this on the news here and was waiting for it to pop up here on your blog. She was warned and trespassed beyond the fencing.Too bad she had to learn the hard way. And a hefty fine will be the final lesson after her hospital bill. Hopefully all visitors will see this video and leave Wildlife Alone!!!!! Enough already people. Hope you two are having a great summer. Mahalo as always.

    1. Hi Debra.

      Thanks; you too. It was on the news but we felt it was important to include it here as well. We have actually witnessed these incidents.


      1. We have visited the Hawaii islands many times and on every occassion there is some idiot who thinks they have every right to do what they want and no respect for the rules. No thought about the reason the rules are there. Maybe they can’t read. Visitors touching turtles and chasing them, going beyond the sign and fencing to get that picture of a monk seal.
        Karma to them all

    2. Tired of disrespectful and entitled humans. You are a guest in our house. Please be a gracious one.

  11. This is so sad for Rocky, who has had many pups over the past few years. I wonder what happens to her newborn now? Why don’t people have any common sense anymore? These are not puppies, and I will never understand why anyone would even try to get close to a nursing mother monk seal. They are big and powerful, and can be quite aggressive. You really shouldn’t try to pet a shark either, people! Think!!!

  12. I just don’t understand why someone needs to interact with wild animals, They are in no way like puppy dogs. If you see one asleep on the beach just stay away from it. You just don’t know what kind of reaction you’re going to get by awakening a wild animal.

  13. This stupidity by grown adults never ceases to amaze me. These are Wild Animals, not some cartoon animal in an effin Disney movie. Giving wold sea animals a wide berth has nothing to do with honoring Hawaii’s culture. Any wild animal Anywhere deserves not to be approached, interfered with or otherwise molested by clueless humans seeking an Instagram moment for their vacay. WTF is wrong with people? Welcome to the real world.

  14. Not just in Hawaii, but anywhere…when is it a good idea to interfere with WILDlife? I will never understand people that do this. Photograph and admire from a distance.

    1. my sister was in Yellowstone once and a kid had just been attacked I think by a Bison…parents had pushed him near the bison to “take a picture”…In the narcissist world on endless Selflies and Self-promotion the theory of “Survival of the Fittest” certainly holds true

  15. What? We can’t pet them? Just last week I was at Yellowstone and tried to pet the Bison. And then a month or so ago I was at Yosemite and tried to pet a moose.

  16. Maybe the airlines could announce to passengers before leaving airplane about staying away from monk seals. Then it cannot be used as an excuse “we didn’t know”. Also the hotels could post it. Humbug I know.

      1. No, you can’t. But if it is sufficiently painful it might not be repeated, at least by that person.

    1. Unfortunately, people would just ignore this Public Safety Announcement; like they do the safety information at the beginning of the flight. In lieu of jail; folks should be forced to spend a percentage of their precious vacation days in public service (e.g. on the side of the road picking up trash… you know, something difficult to get that good selfie shot). Guarantee, that information would spread like wildfire, and the behavior would eventually stop. FB, Twitter, and Instagram would spread it faster because you’ve taken away an entitlement from the entitled.

  17. Just shows that you truly cannot fix stupid! Hope the bite hurt real bad and that she gets fined appropriately for her stupidity.


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