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Feds keep tabs on 10 monk seals on Oahu beaches

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 02:05 a.m. HST, Dec 13, 2012

Observers reported seeing 10 Hawaiian monk seals Wednesday on various Oahu beaches, including an offshore islet.

Dera Look, marine mammal response coordinator for National Marine Fisheries Service, said one was seen on each of the following West Oahu beaches: Ewa Beach, White Plains Beach, Nimitz Beach, Maili Point and Makaha.

One was seen at Hauula and an observer saw three by telescope on Manana Island (Rabbit Island) near Makapuu.

Look said the number fluctuates from day to day, season to season, due to a variety of factors, including survey efforts, the number of people out at beaches and whether they report them.

She said the numbers reported range from 0 to 16, which was the maximum number seen during an intense survey effort. She did not have an average daily number of sightings.

Most females have already pupped and weaned their young, Look said.

“We are starting to see more seals in the main Hawaiian Islands, but the population as a whole is still in decline,” she said. The seals are accustomed to the presence of people, she added.

NOAA encourages the public to call the Hawaiian Monk Seal Sighting Hotline at 220-7802 when they spot a monk seal.

NOAA often learns about injured animals from reports by the public.

The public is advised to remain 150 feet from a monk seal, which are protected against harassment or harm under the Endangered Species Act.

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SueH wrote:
150 ft.??? That's half a football field: 50 yds!!! The rope and sign barriers the NOAA volunteers put up themselves don't give the seals that much space. 150 ft. in every direction means we might as well completely evacuate the beach. I don't mean to discourage giving the seals some space, but 150 ft??? Get real.
on December 12,2012 | 07:03PM
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