A young female monk seal was found dead at a beach in Anahola on Kauai after being bludgeoned on the side of the head, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
DLNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are seeking information from the public on the death, and a reward is being offered in the case.
Rachel Sprague, NOAA’s Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator, said the seal identified as RF58 was found Sunday afternoon, after the agency received two calls from the public about the dead seal.
Estimated at 4 months to 5 months old, the seal was flown to Oahu for a necropsy.
"There really is no excuse for bludgeoning a baby monk seal," DLNR Chairman William Aila said at a news conference Tuesday.
The pup was born to a well-known seal named Rocky, or RH58, who spends most of her time on Oahu. The mother and pup were victims of a dog attack that occurred on Kauai’s north shore in July. Another pup identified as PK5 was killed in that incident while RF58 recovered from the attack.
Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, and it is a Class C felony to kill a monk seal. Someone convicted could face fines of up to $50,000 and five years in prison. It is also against federal law to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal and a conviction can include additional fines and jail time, DLNR said in a press release.
Anyone with information on the monk seal’s death is urged to call the NOAA hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 1-855-DLNR-TIP or 643-DLNR.