A Hawaiian monk seal pup named Manu‘iwa was seen holding an orange knife in her mouth last Sunday.
Manu‘iwa, a female monk seal pup born in February, recently weaned from her mother on the Big Island.
Staff from Ke Kai Ola, a hospital operated by The Marine Mammal Center at Kailua-Kona and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been monitoring the pup’s health and growth.
At one point the seal dropped the knife under the rocks and it was later retrieved.
“Monk seal pups of Manuʻiwa’s age are essentially toddler-like in their behavior, and aren’t necessarily aware of the dangers of the objects they find in their environment,” said Claire Simeone, director of Ke Kai Ola, in a news release. “We are so grateful that our response volunteers were able to safely resolve this situation and help keep this young pup safe.”
Monk seal experts say that it’s critical for young seals not to have human interactions, especially after they’ve weaned from their moms. Manu‘iwa will continue to take an interest in things in her environment, according to Ke Kai Ola, including humans, which puts her at higher risk for habituation.
It is also a reminder for people to dispose of items appropriately near the ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Fisheries asks people to report all monk seal sightings to your island’s Marine Mammal Response Coordinator:
>> Oahu: 808-220-7802
>> Kauai: 808-651-7668
>> Molokai: 808-553-5555
>> Maui / Lanai: 808-292-2372
>> Hawaii Island – East: 808-756-5961
>> Hawaii Island – West: 808-987-0765
>> NOAA hotline for all isles: 888-256-9840