FEDERAL AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATING O’AHU MONK SEAL HARASSMENT
(Honolulu) – Anyone who witnessed or has information on a case of Hawaiian monk seal harassment is encouraged to call the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) or NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).
Reporting by the Mauinow.com website over the weekend said Instagram users were outraged by video of a man slapping a resting seal on a West O’ahu beach.
“A shocking video of a man hitting a monk seal resting on an Oʻahu beach has garnered a slew of backlash on Instagram. The video, which was originally posted on TikTok by user Eric Mustevoy and reposted on the popular @hungryhunhgryhawaiian Instagram page, shows a man approaching the seal from behind and striking it while the song “Smack That” by Akon plays in the background. Mustevoy said he recorded the video over a month ago on a beach in West Oʻahu while he was visiting the island. That was not me that did that, Mustevoy told Maui Now.”
DOCARE and OLE officers are aware of the incident and the social media posting. The agencies cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. However, everyone is reminded that Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. They are also protected under state law and harassment of a monk seal is a class C felony punishable by imprisonment and fines.
It’s recommended everyone follow established viewing guidelines for monk seals and other marine wildlife. These guidelines have been developed to maximize human safety, seal safety, and legal compliance.
Viewing Marine Wildlife in Hawaiʻi
Ocean recreation in Hawaiʻi can include encounters with marine wildlife. For their protection and your safety, view them responsibly. Sea turtles, monk seals, dolphins and whales are wild animals and protected under state and federal laws.
To report suspected monk seal protection violations or to provide information that may be relevant to an ongoing investigation, please call the NOAA OLE hotline at: (800) 853-1964 or the DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app (Iphone or Ipad).
DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “We encourage people to report violations immediately. Far too often we learn about these cases after they’ve been posted to social media, which compounds the difficulty of gathering evidence and witness statements in real time.”
Hawai‘i wildlife viewing guidelines: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pacific-islands/marine-life-viewing-guidelines/viewing-marine-wildlife-hawaii