Close contact with people “harmful” to monk seals

Close contact with people “harmful” to monk seals
Published: Oct. 11, 2013 at 12:11 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2013 at 12:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island photographer Doug Perrine captured people getting too close to a monk seal pup on Sunday-- one day before it bit two Kona Ironman Triathletes.

Perrine pleaded with people to back away from the monk seal pup on Sunday, warning "This is a young seal and he's in danger of starting to play with humans instead of seals and then he'll become dangerous as he grows."

The next day, this same seal bit two triathletes training in Kamakahonu bay when they wouldn't reciprocate play.

"When seals play with each other, they play rough and they bite" explains Perrine.

The 100 pound male, known by a bleach mark on its back as "H0 5" is being held by wildlife officials, removed from the wild for now.  The pup was looking to rest on the beach, but distracted by human interaction, despite warnings from Perrine. "It's very dangerous for the seal. We've lost 2 seals on this Island because they became too playful with people."

The best example of an over friendly monk seal pups is now at the Waikiki Aquarium. Remember KP2, now named Hoailona or "Hoa." and still a big people pleaser.

Families can interact with Hoa at a safe distance. It's a contrast to KP2's well documented escapades.

The abandoned pup was a bonafide star on Molokai, cavorting with children and dogs in the water.

Concerned it might hurt someone, NOAA shipped the seal to a California research center, before a long awaited homecoming to Hawaii.

Perrine doesn't know what more he could have done to keep people from getting too close to another monk seal, and vice versa.

Old habits die hard. A barrier actually had to go in at the Waikiki Aquarium to keep more distance between Hoa and humans. As for H05, no decision on when or where it'll be released.

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