A 19-year-old Eleele man was arrested Thursday in connection with an attack on a Hawaiian monk seal at a Kauai beach.
The man was arrested near Eleele at about 2:30 p.m. on suspicion of a prohibited take, a technical term that includes causing harm. Officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement made the arrest.
He has not been charged.
A video posted on social media showed a man repeatedly punching the pregnant, 17-year-old monk seal at Salt Pond Beach at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.
At a news conference Thursday, Thomas Friel, chief of DLNR’s enforcement division, said several eyewitnesses and the video helped identify the suspect.
“Without it we wouldn’t have the identity of this man,” he said.
DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case said, “I think the message is very clear. Harming monk seals is not OK, and we’re not going to tolerate it. The public won’t tolerate it.”
If convicted of this Class C felony offense, the suspect could face five years in prison. Also, the state environmental court could impose a fine of up to $50,000.