Beach goers at Richardson’s Beach Park in Keaukaha were surprised to see a Hawaiian monk seal basking on the black sand by the waters edge on Wednesday.
Volunteers with the Monk Seal Response Team quickly isolated the area around the seal with police tape, and then educated onlookers who stopped by for a closer look.
The team said the seal did not appear to be injured.
The Hawaiian monk seal is a critically endangered species on the verge of extinction. Some estimates have the population at less than 1,000 remaining in the wild.
NOAA also offers this advise for onlookers on its webiste, http://www.fpir.noaa.gov:
– Keep your pet on a leash at all times in the presence of seals. Seals can be aggressive and have been known to bite dogs.
– When viewing a monk seal on the beach, observe them from at least 150 feet away and limit your observation time to one-half hour.
– Never attempt to swim with or touch a Hawaiian monk seal. They are wild animals and have been known to be aggressive and bite humans.