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.
A Hawaiian monk seal attacks a woman who gets too close in Kaimana Beach, where seal pups were born recently. Visitors need to know the rules. This is why it’s against the law in #Hawaii to approach these protected animals, especially mamas who just gave birth. #monkseal pic.twitter.com/0Y9pmnkC2P
— Annalisa Burgos (@AnnalisaBurgos) July 24, 2022
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.