HONOLULU (KHON2) — A swimmer was bit by a nursing mother monk seal last week at Kaimana Beach, but many in the community said beachgoers continue to get near the mother monk seal named Rocky and her pup.
The signs to not disturb the monk seals are hard to miss and every so often, lifeguards will remind the public to keep their distance but neighbors who live near Kaimana Beach said crowds of people circled the seals on Saturday, apparently closer than the 150 feet distance that should be maintained.
Larry Akiyama is a beach regular, he said people continue to get near the animals.
Akiyama said, “People should get an orientation about this you know, and I am not blaming everybody but for how long is this going on.”
As lifeguards and Hawaii Marine Animal Response volunteers rope off an area of the beach near the seals, one couple refused to move. The volunteers and Ocean Safety are not enforcers of the law, they can simply relay the message.
Police and the Department of Land and Natural Resources were called, but the couple left before officers arrived.
Officials continue on alert after Rocky bit a swimmer last Sunday. After investigating, the DLNR said the swimmer did nothing to provoke the encounter.
The DLNR said Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers have been at the beach as much as possible, adding that an individual’s decision to ignore guidance is not illegal. Although all agencies involved in protecting seals and beachgoers are considering what other steps to take to keep both seals and people safe.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommend people engage in water activities at other beaches as Rocky continues to nurse her pup. Anyone who harasses or tampers with the seals can face thousands of dollars in fines or prison time.