"Graffiti" on Hawaiian Monk Seals Helps Scientists

Tracy Wurth
Tracy Wurth

KALAELOA (KHNL) - Hawaiian Monk seals are showing up with a new graffiti look. But those who deal with the animals say its nothing to worry about, in fact, its meant to help the seals.

Some Kalaeloa viewers are talking story about a Hawaiian Monk seal that appears to be spray painted!

You can see the marking "e-v" on its side. Before you get upset, this isn't the work of some malicious graffiti artist; instead, its done by the National Marine Fisheries Service as a way to track the animals.

"It's an applied bleach mark, so its hair dye that you or I would use to bleach our hair and we mix it up and put a number letter code on them to identify them from a distance." says Tracy Wurth, a biologist with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

The dye doesn't harm the animal. Crews wait until the seals are sleeping to tag them, so the animals aren't even aware of their new look.

If you see a Monk seal on our shores, contact NOAA at 220-7802 to report the sighting.