Video captures Hawaiian monk seal being harassed

Video captures Hawaiian monk seal being harassed

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A flagrant violation on Oahu's south shore has federal wildlife authorities investigating.

Video shot by Honolulu Civil Beat reporter Sophie Cocke captures a man creeping up to a Hawaiian monk seal that hauled up on the shore of Diamond head Beach over the weekend.

"It doesn't make me very happy," said former Oahu resident Jinny Lee Snyder, after the video was shown to her.

The video shows onlookers crowding around the mammal.  At one point one man appears to touch the seal and you can actually hear the seal snapping it's jaws.

"You should always leave a wild animal alone," Snyder's friend, Sharon Jones said.

"They're a very important part of the marine eco-system so people just need to be aware of their surroundings and respect the marine life," said Cocke.

Rachel Sprague, Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says Hawaiian monk seals are known to frequent that area.

Sprague says it's not only disrespectful to disrupt Hawaiian monk seals.  It's illegal and can be very dangerous.

"As you can see from that video, they're a pretty large carnivore and we're concerned about people's safety as well," Sprague said.

Hawaiian monk seals are only found in Hawaii.

Sprague says there are only about 1,100 of them throughout the islands.  Only about 150 of them are known to frequent the main Hawaiian Islands.

"It is exciting for people to see seals. Seeing Hawaiian monk seals in's one of the most endangered species in the world…so it is a very special experience and we do want people to enjoy that experience but would like them to do it with respect both for the seal and respect for their own safety," said Sprague.

Violators can be fined up to $50-thousand and spend a year in prison for harassing a Hawaiian monk seal. 

Sprague says call the Marine Mammal Hotline at 888-256-9840 if you see them haul up on shore.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.