HONOLULU (KHON2) — There’s an Instagram video of a man slapping a monk seal in West Oahu.
Investigators from the Department of Land and Natural Resources DOCARE division are looking into it.
Anyone who witnessed or has information on a case of Hawaiian monk seal harassment is encouraged to call the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) or NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).
The agencies cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
However, everyone is reminded that Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
They are also protected under state law and harassment of a monk seal is a class C felony punishable by imprisonment and fines.
It’s recommended everyone follow established viewing guidelines for monk seals and other marine wildlife. These guidelines have been developed to maximize human safety, seal safety, and legal compliance.
To report suspected monk seal protection violations or to provide information that may be relevant to an ongoing investigation, please call the NOAA OLE hotline at: (800) 853-1964 or the DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.
DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “We encourage people to report violations immediately. Far too often we learn about these cases after they’ve been posted to social media, which compounds the difficulty of gathering evidence and witness statements in real time.”