A recording has emerged of a man attacking a helpless monk seal that was trying to rest in the water in Hawaii (video below).
On April 26, Kauai County Police answered to a call about the incident around 7:45 p.m. at Salt Pond Beach Park.
The monk seal, named RK-30, is well-known throughout the area because of her numerous scars from shark attacks and boat propellers, reports KHON. She is thought to be around 17 years old. Adding salt to the wound, the seal was also pregnant with her seventh baby at the time of the attack, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“She’s large, and appears to be approaching her due date,” said Jamie Thomton, NOAA marine mammal response coordinator. “We responded immediately. Our phone started ringing off the hook.”
NOAA says RK-30 has recovered. An agent stationed on Oahu flew to Kauai April 27 to investigate and federal authorities are now searching for the suspect in the video.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. commented on the disturbing video, which has been posted on YouTube. “I share our community’s shock and disappointment as this behavior is both unacceptable and illegal,” he said.
NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement is working alongside the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources, and county officials.
Although there are reports of people harming monk seals on Kauai each year, they rarely get punished due to lack of evidence.
“We may receive a report second-hand, third-hand, saying they observed something, but we don’t have photographic evidence of that,” Thomton said. “We are finding each year more and more monk seals are accepted on Kauai. Locals are taking protections in their own hands.”
“The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world and they are endemic to Hawaii,” added Carvalho. “They deserve our respect and protection, and our gratitude goes out to the bystanders who immediately contacted authorities. I urge anyone with information on the suspect to please report it.”
Monk seals are sheltered under the Endangered Species Act and hurting a monk seal carries a fine up to $50,000, and/or one year in prison.