Monk seal pup getting too close to humans

Monk seal pup getting too close to humans

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Signs are going up around Honolulu harbors and flyers are being handed out to boaters about a monk seal pup named U'ilani.

U'ilani doesn't seem to be afraid of people and the Department of Land and Natural Resources say people have been seen feeding the seal.  William Aila, the Chairman of the DLNR says that is both illegal and harmful to the animal.

"The best way (for her) to survive, is to keep her wild and cautious of human beings," says Aila.

"Interaction and feeding, or eye contact causes them to become friendly," says Dave Schofield of NOAA's Marine Fisheries Service, "(It's) not in the best interest for survival."

The 8-month old seal is often seen in the waters from the Ala Wai Boat Harbor to Ke'ehi Lagoon.  She has two red flipper tags.

Video provided by DLNR and NOAA show U'ilani eating and playing in the water.  The woman taking the video kept her distance and didn't bother the seal.  Many pictures have also been taken of the pup.

Seal pups are often abandoned by their mothers at seven weeks old, left to fend for themselves.  Schofield says, up until seals are a year old, they form habits.  If U'ilani is getting food from people, she'll continue to want handouts and become a nuisance later.

Monk seals are endangered and if anyone is caught feeding or hassling one, that person could face years in jail and be fined up to $50,000.