Lihue man sentenced after video captures beating of pregnant monk seal

(Image: Shane Fernandez/Facebook)
(Image: Shane Fernandez/Facebook)
Shylo Akuna (Image: Kauai County)
Shylo Akuna (Image: Kauai County)

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Lihue man will serve four years in prison for harassing a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal on Kauai's South Shore in 2016.

A Circuit Court judge handed down the sentence Wednesday.

Last April, video of then 19-year-old Shylo Akuna repeatedly punching the monk seal surfaced online, and sparked outrage on social media.

"Whenever you have a video of a defendant committing a crime, that is a very compelling piece of evidence," Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said.

The incident happened in the shallow waters near the shore of Kauai's Salt Pond Beach.

Kauai County officials said Akuna was apparently intoxicated at the time.

In the days following the incident, officials were able to locate the monk seal, and reported no signs of trauma. Akuna was located and arrested a day later.

Wildlife officials identified the monk seal as 17-year-old RK30. She has scars from previous injuries including a shark attack and entanglement in fishing line.

Hawaiian monk seals are federally protected. Anyone caught harassing monk seals could face up to five years behind bars and a $50,000 fine.

"We take our natural environment very seriously in Hawaii and protecting endangered species is a part of that," Kollar said.

Court records also show that Akuna served time for an unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat from a West Side pasture.

Akuna also faces charges for an unrelated alleged burglary at a room at the Grand Hyatt hotel in March this year.

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