Tipster provides photos of couple with dog too close to endangered Hawaiian monk seal
An anonymous tipster provided the Hawai’i State Department of Land and Natural Resources with photographs taken last week that show a couple posing and their dog too close to a Hawaiian monk seal on a beach within the Ka‘ena Point State Park in Honolulu County.
The couple did not comply with NOAA’s safe viewing guidelines of at least 50 feet (150 feet if its a mom with a pup) and they had a small dog off-leash and on-the-loose around the seal.
The photographs were sent to the DLNRTip app. People also can report natural resource violations or suspicious activity to 1-800-853-1964 or 808-643-DLNR (3567).
“Regrettably, we did not have an officer in the area, but we wanted to release the tipster’s photographs to illustrate this irresponsible behavior,” said Jason Redulla, chief of the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
Being too close to a monk seal, especially with a dog, created an unsafe situation that must be avoided and could have easily resulted in an unlawful “take” situation under Federal and State laws, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources news release.
Several individuals have been charged and convicted on similar violations in recent years.
“Monk seal pupping on beaches like Kaimana in Waikīkī, illustrate the protection and care that DLNR, NOAA and other partners institute to protect seals,” Redulla said. “They are critically endangered and have the highest levels of protections available. We hope that local residents and visitors alike will become educated about safe wildlife viewing guidelines and the rules and laws regarding human behavior around seals.”
Hawaiian Monk Seals:
- Recommended viewing distance: At least 50 feet away—on land and in water.
- View mother seals and their pups from at least 150 feet away
- Stay behind any signs or barriers.
- Use the “rule of thumb” to determine a safe distance (if no signs or barriers are present)
- Make a “thumbs up” gesture and extend your arm straight in front of you.
- Turn your thumb parallel to the ground in your line of sight of the seal.
- If your thumb covers the entire seal, you are likely far enough away (about 50 feet)