The video of a pregnant monk seal being attacked on Kauai has left many people outraged including Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.
“I was very disappointed and shocked at this video and the disrespect that took place,” said Carvalho.
“We are doing our very best to protect our endangered species and this is just unacceptable.”
Police did respond to the incident, but the man was gone before they arrived.
“Not only was it shocking but it was illegal,” said Carvalho.
It’s not the first time monk seals have been the target of violence.
Tim Robinson with the Kauai Monk Seal Watch Program says while not frequent, it does happen.
“I have seen this and worse,” said Robinson. “I can remember when I was first starting out we had a woman go out and try to get on one, a mother with a pup.”
Anyone caught harming a monk seal can be fined up to $50,000 and spend up to one year in prison.
In 2009 Charles Vidinha spent 90 days in jail for shooting and killing a seal. In 2012 Travis Kane had to do 80 hours of community service for throwing rocks at a seal, and in 2015 Jamie Rice spent five days in jail for harassing a seal.
“What we need to do is see it enforced emphatically with maximum penalties applied as a method that says this is not good this should not happen,” said Robinson.
“We are working closely with all the different departments, the police department as well as NOAA in addressing this issue,” said Carvalho.
To report information on this incident, contact NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
To report a marine mammal in danger on Kauai, call the Kauai Marine Mammal Response Hotline at 651-7668.