POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 23, 2011
A 19-year-old man must pay $100 in fines and fees for running up to and touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal at Kalaeloa's White Plains Beach in March.
Cameron Cayaban pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to harassing, harming or pursuing an endangered species.
Federal magistrate judge Kevin S.C. Chang imposed a $50 fine and a $25 assessment and ordered Cayaban to pay a $25 administrative fee.
The government charged Cayaban with slapping a Hawaiian monk seal known as Kermit on March 12 while the animal was re-entering the ocean.
His lawyer, Pamela Cayaban said he had never seen a seal before and wanted to get close to it. After he touched the animal, he said it turned around, looked at him, then went into the water.
Witnesses who saw what happened reported the incident to Barbers Point military police.
David Schofield, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, said there were volunteer observers at the beach because Kermit, officially known as RO12, had been there for a few days. He said the service had even put up barriers to keep people away from the endangered animal.
Schofield said RO12 frequents Kalaeloa's White Plains Beach and Nimitz Beach and has been seen on Oahu as far west as Kaena Point and as far east as Manana Island, also known as Rabbit Island.