WAIKIKI (KHON2) — Those who want to take a dip in the ocean might want to skip Kaimana Beach.
The Hawaiian monk seal Kaiwi gave birth there on Friday, April 14 and a majority of the beach is off limits.
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The typical recommendation for staying away from a mother monk seal and her pup is 150 feet. 2023 marks the third consecutive year that a seal gave birth at Kaimana Beach and volunteers are working with the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) to keep most of the beach closed.
Some visitors were quite understanding.
“The thing that’s impacting our visit is having the opportunity to kind of visit the nursery of an exceptional event,” said Michigan resident Ifetayo Johnson.
Others were a little confused at first.
“Oh, my goodness. I was like, ‘What’s going on here? Was there like a shark in the water?’ I just, you know, but it’s a seal! So, I just was surprised that they decided to close the whole beach,” said Christina Hardisty, a part-time Oahu resident.
“He’s probably laying on the beach sunning, I don’t know,” said Christina’s husband, Terry Hardisty.
KHON2 pointed out that the Kaiwi is a female and just gave birth.
“Oh, well okay,” Christina said.
“Oh, that makes a lot of sense,” Terry said.
“Momma seals can be very treacherous,” Christina said.
“Everybody has rights! The animals have rights and matter of fact, they’ve been here before us,” said Michigan resident Velisa Perry. “So, whose rights come first? So, the right of a baby to be protected, it should come first.”
Folks can still get to the water on the Ewa side of Kaimana Beach. Officer with DOCARE were on site on Tuesday, April 18 and the Department of Land and Natural Resources said they are deciding on if enforcement will be 24/7.
Regulars told KHON2 that visitors getting too close to the seals was a major issue in the past.
“They say, ‘I am a guest of the hotel and this and that,’ Uncle Aki said. “Brah, it’s not that. Just like you guys engineers on this kind of stuff, you know, but you guys nothing.”
KHON2 asked Aki if Kaimana Beach looked better in 2023 with most of the beach closed off.
“Oh, 100 times better. Way, way better. They did a very good job and I’m happy and it’s Hawaii,” Uncle Aki said.
“I thank you,” Perry said, “I mean it’s a beautiful place and you really have taken care of this land for a very long time, good work. Good work.”
The DLNR plans to hold a joint press conference with NOAA officials on Thursday, April 20 to give an update on plans for the beach.