WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Although they're cute and may look hungry, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is reminding fishermen and beachgoers not to feed Hawaiian monk seals.
New signs with this reminder were just posted at the small bay across the Kahe Power Plant on Oahu's west side. That's where NOAA officials say three seals have displayed odd behavior, returning in search of food provided by humans.
NOAA says recent reports indicate fishermen have been feeding the seals.
"A seal that gets food from one fisherman will then try to poach from other hook and line fishermen or spear fishermen, impacting everyone's fishing experience. Fishermen can help each other by not feeding seals," Angela Amlin, the Hawaiian monk seal Recovery Coordinator for the NOAA Pacific Fisheries Office explained.
Feeding seals can cause them to be dependent on humans for food. It could also increase the risk of entanglement and other health problems.
Not only is it potentially dangerous to feed the animal, it's also a violation of federal law.
"While we're focusing on the situation at the Kahe Power Plant fishing area, this advice if applicable to anywhere around Hawaii. It's particularly good advice to fishers who stay in one place for extended times," Brian Neilsen, Acting DAR Administrator said.
"When a seal is in the area, take a break, and hopefully it will move on and avoid any encounters with you or any other people," Neilsen added.
To report a sighting of an entangled seal or a seal in danger, please call the statewide Marine Animal Stranding and Entanglement hotline at 1-888-256-9840.