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50 yard enforcement begins around Hawaiian monk seal and pup at Kaimana Beach

Monk seal mother and her pup at Kaimana beach in Waikiki. (File photo 2017) PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement announced today it will be enforcing a 50-yard cordon around Hawaiian monk seal Rocky and her pup at Kaimana Beach beginning Thursday morning.

“This is a government operation to protect public safety and the safety of the monk seals,” DLNR officials said in a press release.

This comes after recent encounters, including one swimmer who was bitten by the protective mother seal on July 24, 2022. The 60-year-old woman received minor injuries in the encounter. 

The more than three-week-long presence of Hawaiian monk seal “Rocky” and her pup at busy Kaimana Beach on O‘ahu continues to lead to calls for beach closures, citations, and stepped-up outreach, education, and enforcement.

Representatives from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources; NOAA Fisheries; and the City and County of Honolulu’s Ocean Safety Division and Department of Parks and Recreation have been in close contact after numerous people have gotten too close to the wild mammals.

“Awareness and safe behavior is of critical importance,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “Would you think twice about standing next to a grizzly bear in Yellowstone? Why does anyone think it’s okay to be near a more than 400-pound animal, that in the water can reach you in seconds?” 

Redulla added, “Government agencies have maintained both official and volunteer presence and signage since the pup’s birth, but these have failed to deter a number of people from approaching the monk seals, creating a dangerous situation. We know people want to see them, but for everyone’s safety and the protection of the seals we will have a 24-hour law enforcement presence at Kaimana until the pup weans in two-to-three weeks.” 

DLNR recognizes the popularity of Kaimana to swimmers, paddlers, and beach users. It’s expected both Rocky and her pup will move on to another area after weaning and encounters will be much less of a concern. 

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/08/03/50-yard-enforcement-begins-around-hawaiian-monk-seal-and-pup-at-kaimana-beach/

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