Sharing The Environment With Hawaiian Monk Seals
Sharing the Environment with Hawaiian Monk Seals
If you are fortunate enough to see a seal on the beach or in the water in Hawaii, remember to watch from a distance for your safety and their preservation. The seal population in the main Hawaiian Islands is naturally increasing slowly and we are lucky to have the opportunity to view monk seals.
It is not uncommon to share the beach with a monk seal. However, it is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. Responsible wildlife viewing helps to ensure your safety, the animals’ protection and their long-term survival in the wild.
Marine animals such as monk seals, sea turtles, dolphins and whales are part of the identity of the islands and hold a special place in the minds and hearts of the people of Hawaii. While viewing marine animals, you should ensure that your actions do not disturb the animals you are observing.
- It is natural for monk seals to come ashore or “haul out” on the beach for long periods of time. Please give them the space they need to rest, molt, give birth and rear their pups. Do not attempt to push them back into the water or wake them up by approaching too closely.
- Roped off areas or signs that have been placed on the beach are for your safety and to allow the seal to rest – please stay behind any ropes or signs.
- If a seal approaches you, move away to avoid interaction. If you are in the ocean, cautiously exit the water.
- Pets, especially dogs, can pose a significant risk to monk seals. Please keep them on a leash when in the presence of monk seals to avoid injury or disease transmission for both seals and pets.
- In the ocean, monk seals may exhibit inquisitive behavior. Approaching or attempting to play or swim with them may alter their behavior and their ability to fend for themselves in the wild. In addition, a monk seal “playing” with a human can inadvertently cause injuries or even death to the interacting human.
- If you encounter a seal while fishing, take a short break or change locations. This way you won’t lose your bait or tackle and the seal won’t get hooked. Fishing with a barbless circle hook also minimize hooking injuries. Guidelines have been developed to minimize the impacts of fishery interactions with monk seals.
- Cautiously move away if you observe the following monk seal behaviors indicating it has been disturbed:
- Female attempting to shield a pup with her body or by her movements.
- Vocalization (growling) or rapid movement away from the disturbance.
- Sudden awakening from sleep on the beach.
Get The Responsible Viewing Guidelines Brochure: Download
Review NOAA’s Fisheries Interactions Guidelines: Download