Seeing a Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal on Poipu Beach

On our recent visit to Kauai, we were excited to see a Hawaiian Monk Seal resting on Poipu Beach. So, I wanted to show the photos that Andy took from a distance, plus share what I wrote about Hawaiian Monk Seals back in this November 2007 in this article: When in Hawaii Protect and Respect Monk Seals.

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.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

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.

 




About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

2 comments

  1. They had this monk seal roped off. Fortunately, I was able to zoom to 200mm on my camera, so that helped get what look like really close pictures. 🙂

  2. My husband noticed a monk seal that washed up on shore of Baby Beach in Maui today. Before he had the chance to instruct his kids on the do’s and do not’s, my kids ran ahead of us. Two locals screamed at my kids and threatened to ‘cut their heads off’ if my kids touched it, etc. inasmuch as I understand their angst, it would have been more appropriate to calmly tell the kids about their endangered animal instead of scaring them, which accomplishes nothing. We l need to respect each other and I got the feeling they thought we were stupid tourists-get a handle on your children lady- really? Don’t go there with me- i could go on and on, but simply act like an adult and stop getting wasted on a beach aptly named for children. Oh and grow up, too. Aloha and malaho.

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