Hawaiian Monk Seals are critically endangered species. If you are lucky enough to see one while on your vacation, please do not disturb or approach the seals. Not only is that pono (the right thing to do), it is also your legal responsibility.
When the seals come to shore they most likely resting. One of their predators is a shark. If you see a monk seal resting on a beach and you are tempted to approach it, don’t. Maybe it’s best to imagine that the seal is taking a break from escaping a hungry shark, maybe then you’ll be more inclined to respect the seal’s respite.
If you see a monk seal in Hawaii, you are encouraged to call (808) 983-5715 or contact the research program by e-mail. You are also encouraged to report strandings (e.g. entanglement or sick seals) by calling (888) 256-9840. If you see someone violating the guidelines for viewing a monk seal, please inform them of the rules. You can also snitch on them by calling (800)853-1964.
Here are the NOAA guidelines for observing Hawaiian monk seals:
- Do not disturb, feed, pursue, encourage, or otherwise approach seals. Seals are wild and may bite if disturbed.
- Seals need undisturbed rest on land it is critical for their survival.
- Remain out of sight, if possible. Keep at least 100 feet away more if encountering a mother and pup.
- Although monk seals may approach people, always move away to avoid interaction.
- Keep dogs away from seals.
- Contact with humans or dogs may transmit diseases; an epidemic could cause the seals’ extinction.