A 20-year-old Eleele man has been sentenced to four years in prison for harassing a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal on Kauai.
Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced Shylo Akuna today after he was convicted for the felony charge.
According to Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar, this is believed to be the first conviction under a state law enacted in 2010 that made it a felony to harm or harass Hawaiian monk seals.
Last year, a video posted on social media showed a man later identified as Akuna, then 19, harassing the 17-year-old endangered monk seal at Salt Pond Beach on April 26.
Police along with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement arrested Akuna two days later.
The monk seal identified as RK30 was uninjured and gave birth to her seventh pup during the first week of May on a remote beach on the Na Pali Coast.
Of the four-year prison sentence, Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar said, “It sends a message that harassment of endangered species will not be tolerated and will not be acceptable.”
“Our natural environment is so important to us in Hawaii and we are determined to protect that,” Kollar said in a phone interview.