Hawaii officers involved about rising studies of harassment towards marine life

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Waikiki Kaimana Beach will remain closed while Kaiwi and her pup relax.

Meanwhile, marine life officials are concerned about an increasing number of reports of harassment against this endangered species.

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The viewer video sent to KHON2 has affected officials. The video was recently captured at Shark Pit Beach in Lahaina, Maui.

The person in the video can be seen splashing water on the monk seal until it is forced back into the ocean.

All eyes on the newborn Hawaiian monk seal in Waikiki

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says they are currently investigating the incident, and this is far from rare.

“We have actually seen an increase in reports of suspected harassment disorder since the pandemic since the pandemic,” said Adam Kurtz, wildlife management coordinator at NOAA Fisheries.

Harassment of a Hawaiian monk seal is illegal and carries severe penalties.

“Your fines could go up to more than $ 50,000, or it could be a simple Settlement Letter of less than $ 1,000, or depending on how outrageous the violation is,” said Martina Sagapolu of NOAA’s Law Enforcement Department Fisheries.

The consequences don’t stop there. Getting too close can have a huge impact on the animal.

“It could cause reproductive problems. It can use up precious energy that they need to survive. It can interfere with other important behaviors they have like resting or taking care of their young or feeding, ”said Kurtz.

All officers ask to keep a safe distance. They say there is an easy way to find out what that is.

Spectators can ensure they are far enough away by using the NOAA “rule of thumb” rule when there are no obstacles.

There are also rules when beach goers get in the water and encounter marine life.

“It’s 50 meters for dolphins and small whales. For humpback whales it’s 100 meters and for monk seals we usually say about 50 feet, ”Kurtz said.

“We all want to enjoy the beaches, we all want to enjoy the water. If you can do this while respecting the animals that are there it will be a win for everyone, ”Sagapolu said.

To report a violation to NOAA, call the helpline at (800) -853-1964 or click here.

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