Viewing Hawaiian Monk Seals
As you visit Hawaiian beaches, you may see one of the most critically endangered marine mammals on earth, the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Despite births in recent years, the estimated population is only about 25 around Kauai. Every beachgoer’s help is vital to ensure the seals’ survival.
Please follow these guidelines for observing seals:
- ALWAYS stay well behind barricades or warning signs placed around a basking seal, and at least 100 feet from seals in unmarked areas.
- REMEMBER to maintain a much greater distance from a mother and pup, or any seal that appears disturbed or agitated.
- ALWAYS pass outside barricades, or above an unbarricaded seal, never between the seal and the ocean.
- REMEMBER that you should never approach or attempt to feed a seal – on the beach, while swimming, or from a boat.
- ALWAYS view quietly. Do not throw sand, stones, objects, or make noise to induce movement and create photo ops. All marine wildlife — seals, sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales — require distance, quiet, and respect for proper viewing.
- ALWAYS photograph seals from the proper distance and never use flash photography in their presence.
- PROTECT children. Advise them of proper behavior. An agitated 400 to 600 pound monk seal could bite, crush, or cause other serious injury to a child.
- ALWAYS report any seal harassment – at the beach, in the water, or from a boat operator – to local Police.
- REMEMBER state and federal laws. Harassment or disturbance of a Hawaiian Monk Seal can incur fines exceeding $25,000 and up to 5 years imprisonment.Enjoy these natural treasures of Hawaii. Your respect for their well-being and survival will ensure their presence during your next visit and for generations to come.
*Local residents should remember that dogs present serious disease and injury threats to seals. Please keep your dogs leashed and well away from seals while at the beach.
Monk Seals are often seen from boat charters and whalewatching tours.
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