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Leaders speak out against monk seals killings on Molokai

WAILUKU >> Molokai community leaders are speaking out against the recent deaths of three Hawaiian monk seals which may have been killed by humans.

A nontagged juvenile male seal was found dead at Pakaa beach on west of the island in late June, The Maui News reported Friday. A second seal, which was born on Kalaupapa last April, was found dead on June 18 on the east end of Molokai.

A third seal was found dead in May.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are investigating the deaths.

Fewer than 1,400 monk seals remain in the wild, said Suzanne Case, chairwoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Eight monk seal deaths have occurred on Molokai since 2009. They are believed to be caused by human-inflicted trauma, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

State Rep. Lynn DeCoite of Molokai said Wednesday that she is “beyond upset by the recent deaths of monk seals.”

Community leaders Walter Ritte, Malia Akutagawa and La‘a Poepoe echoed her sentiment in a joint statement.

“The Kumulipo teaches us that we as people possess ancestral and familial ties to all manifestations of creation, including to the kinolau (physical body form and divine essence) of ocean god Kanaloa,” they said. “The monk seal is kinolau of Kanaloa.”

DeCoite has asked community members to work with authorities to identify the people involved in the monk seal deaths.

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