Had it been something other than a sharp fishing knife perhaps the video would have been endearing?
A Hawaiian monk seal pup named Manu‘iwa recently weaned from its mother on a Hawai‘i Island beach. 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 have been monitoring the pup’s health and growth.
Last Sunday, however, the people observing the seal spotted it playing with a bright orange object in its mouth.
According to DLNR officials, as they watched the seal dive beneath near-shore rocks and come back up they realized Manu‘iwa was holding a knife in its mouth by its handle.
The DOCARE officer who captured the incident on video tape commented, “There was real concern that the seal pup might swallow the knife. It’s a reminder to all of us to properly dispose of our trash and not to leave it on Hawai‘i’s beaches or in the ocean.”
At one point the seal dropped the knife under the rocks and it was later retrieved.
Animal experts say that it’s critical for young seals not to have human interactions so they can learn to be wild animals, especially after they’ve weaned from their moms and are on their own.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Fisheries asks people to report all monk seal sightings to your island’s Marine Mammal Response Coordinator:
Maui / Lanai: 808-292-2372
Hawaii Island – East: 808-756-5961
Hawaii Island – West: 808-987-0765