Free Monk Seal Response Training Workshop this Saturday
by Denise Laitinen
The Hilo Marine Mammal Response Network (HMMRN) is offering a free workshop on responding to monk seal response calls this Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The class, which will be held at the UH-Hilo Marine Science Building, Room 101, is open to current and new volunteers, as well as those wishing to learn more about the program.
You do not need to be a college student to belong to HMMRN and no previous experience is required.
The training is designed to train volunteers for seal response and is required for all new volunteers.
Participants will learn how to respond to Hawaiian monk seals when they are hauled out (resting) on beaches or the rocky coastline.
Attendees will also learn how to photograph the animal from a distance, how to set-up seal protection zones, and how to talk to the public about these critically endangered species.
Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered because they are only found in Hawaii and there are only about 1,100 remaining on the planet.
Because their population is declining by 4% each year, it’s extremely important to protect the species and to educate the public about them.
Marine mammals, such as Hawaiian monk seals, are protected by federal law. It’s illegal for unauthorized persons to touch, harass or prompt the animal in any way to change its natural behavior.
Every time a monk seal is sighted on Hawaii Island, HMMRN conducts a response.
HMMRN is a volunteer-based organization affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Division of Land and Natural Resources / Division of Aquatic Resources.
The Hilo Marine Mammal Response Network is authorized by NOAA and DAR to respond to Hawaiian monk seal sightings, birthing events, and deceased and stranded marine mammals.
HMMRN is responsible for coordinating marine mammal responses for east Hawaii Island, as well as conducting community outreach events, including the semi-annual Hawaiian Monk Seal Count and the annual Hilo Ocean Day Festival.
To register for the class call (808) 756-5961 or email HMMRN@hawaii.edu.