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NOAA investigating alleged punching of monk seal on Kauai beach

  • COURTESY NOAA / PERMIT #932-1905

    The Hawaiian monk seal, identified as RK30, rested comfortably on the west end of Salt Pond Beach with no apparent injuries, according to Jamie Thomton, Kauai marine mammal response program coordinator of NOAA Fisheries.

  • COURTESY NOAA / PERMIT #932-1905

    The Hawaiian monk seal, identified as RK30, rested comfortably on the west end of Salt Pond Beach with no apparent injuries, according to Jamie Thomton, Kauai marine mammal response program coordinator of NOAA Fisheries.

A video posted on social media that shows a man punching a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal at a Kauai beach has touched off an investigation conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The alleged attack occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Kauai police and NOAA responded to the scene.

“Biologists saw her resting comfortably on the west end of Salt Pond Beach with no apparent injuries,” said Jamie Thomton, Kauai marine mammal response program coordinator of NOAA Fisheries. Even so, he said, “We are very concerned about the incident depicted on the video.”

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division Conservation and Resources Enforcement is assisting NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement in the investigating the incident.

Scientists revisited the site this morning and observed marks on the sand indicating that the seal, identified as RK30, had left the beach overnight.

Thomton said the seal is about 17 years old and beloved by the community as she has been seen on every beach on the Garden Isle. She was first seen on the Na Pali Coast in 2004. She gave birth to her first pup in 2006 at Milolii Beach on the Na Pali Coast and has given birth to five more pups since then. Thomton said she is pregnant with her seventh pup.

Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered population with approximately 1,200 monk seals, a majority of which are at the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and approximately 200 in the main Hawaiian islands.

Anyone with information on the monk seal attack is urged to call NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 587-0077.

To report a monk seal incident, call NOAA’s 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840.

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