Community rallies for prosecution, education after Hawaiian monk seal’s intentional killing

The intentional killing of a Hawaiian monk seal has left many in disbelief. Some are taking action to find those responsible for the endangered animal's death.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:52 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering $5,000 for information to prosecute the person or people who intentionally killed an endangered Hawaiian monk seal on Oahu’s Waianae Coast.

There are also efforts to increase that reward.

“When I read that, I just thought that that was way too low to represent an incentive to represent, you know, the passing of this rescue Hawaiian monk seal,” said Attorney Michael Wheeler.

Wheeler was born on Maui and raised on the mainland. He comes to Hawaii every three months.

He’s among the hundreds that commented on social media about the killing of seal RQ76, also known as, “Malama.”

The seal, just under 1-year-old, was found dead in March at Ohikilolo between Keaau Beach Park and Makua Valley.

Officials said a necropsy identified blunt force trauma as her cause of death.

“It’s really a tragic situation and a senseless act,” said Diana Kramer, NOAA Pacific Islands regional stranding coordinator. “While I can’t speculate on the motive for this particular killing, I can tell you that the broad community across Hawaii values and supports these native species.”

Wheeler said people need to know how precious the animals are.

“If you’re fortunate enough to see a Hawaiian monk seal, you always respect and give them distance,” Wheeler said.

“It’s tragic that you know, someone would do this horrific act on such a beautiful creature.”

Wheeler created a GoFundMe to help increase the reward to catch Malama’s killer and has already raised $2,000.

But NOAA said they can’t accept the money.

NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement released the following statement: “We appreciate the outpouring of public concern and support on this case. We want to be clear that we are not able to accept funds from outside parties and cannot verify or take responsibility for any organized efforts outside of our existing reward.”

Wheeler says he asked NOAA for guidance on where the donation can now go.

He hopes to give the money to an organization that cares for or studies the seals.

“Just want to give back and give good mana,” said Wheeler.

To reports any tips about Malama’s death to NOAA, call 800-853-1964.