Monk Seals Deserve R&R on Oahu's Beaches

Tracy Wurth
Tracy Wurth
John Gregory
John Gregory

EAST OAHU (KHNL) -- It's a bit of an old wives tale, or in this case an old monks tale.

In this Earth and Sea Project report,  the monk seal population is growing throughout the Hawaiian Islands and it's important to respect their space.

Borders are put up around this monk seal on this Oahu beach. It's a reminder for people to keep their distance from this endangered animal.

"We recommend trying to get 100-150 feet distance if possible," said Tracy Wurth, Monk Seal Sighting Coordinator. "A lot of the beaches here around Oahu and the other islands are pretty small so a lot of times, it's hard to get that far away but do the best you can."

Like most people, they enjoy getting a little rest and relaxation on the beach without being disturbed.

"Just imagine if you were trying to take a nap on the beach and a bunch of people came up right up to you and were taking pictures and poking you with sticks and throwing sand in your face, I don't think you'd like that very much either," Wurth said.

Signs are put up not only for the safety of the monk seals but also for people wanting to get up close and personal.

"They can and have bitten people in the past, so you have to be aware of your safety as well," said Wurth.

Monk seals are protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Animal Protection Act.

"It goes back to respecting the animal, it's obviously just out here relaxing, it needs to have that time alone to replenish it's body before it goes back out to see for however long they swim," said Oahu resident John Gregory.

With a little Kokua, everyone can enjoy watching these monk seals and help ensure their continued existence.

On April 19th, NOAA will conduct its twice yearly monk seal count island-wide.

On that day, they're asking volunteers to contact them when they spot a monk seal on any of Oahu's beaches.