Don’t Touch Hawaiian Monk Seals
On Wednesday, a 19-year-old man pleaded guilty in an Oahu court for touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal. After pleading guilty to harassing, harming or pursuing an endangered species, Cameron Cayaban was ordered to pay $100 in fines and fees. Cayaban was charged with slapping Kermit, a Hawaiian monk seal on March 12th at White Plains Beach in Hawaii. What makes Cayaban’s actions even more questionable is that volunteer observers for NOAA had even put up barriers around the seal to keep people away. Kermit had already been on the beach for a couple of days and was just entering the water when Cayaban slapped the endangered animal. Currently the population of Hawaiian monk seals is estimated to be 1,200 individuals. Biologists believe that population will continue to drop, and there might be less than 1,000 populating Hawaii in just a couple of years. Due to this decline, the Hawaiian monk seal is among the most endangered species in the world. The monk seal’s name in ancient Hawaiian was llio holo I ka uaua (dog that runs in rough water). Should you see a Hawaiian monk seal on your next Hawaii tour, be sure and give this extraordinary creature plenty of room, and be sure not to touch it!