A Hawaiian monk seal pup named Manu‘iwa that recentl weaned from its mother on a Hawaii Island beach, was spotted this weekend playing with a discarded knife.
Officials are using the opportunity to remind the public about safely disposing trash.
Staff from The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been monitoring the pup’s health and growth.
On Sunday, the people observing the seal spotted it playing with a bright orange object in its mouth. 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.
Eventually, 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.
“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 Dr. Claire Simeone director of Ke Kai Ola. “We are so grateful that our response volunteers were able to safely resolve this situation and help keep this young pup safe.”
If members of the public see Manuʻiwa in the wild, they are encouraged to call The Marine Mammal Center’s hotline (808) 987-0765 to report the sighting. Community members should not enter the water near a monk seal, even to remove a dangerous object, and should instead call the center’s experts immediately.