Federal and state law enforcement officials are investigating a video of a man slapping a resting Hawaiian monk seal on an Oahu beach.
Reporting by the Mauinow.com website over the weekend said Instagram users were outraged by video of a man slapping a resting seal on the west Oahu beach, a press release from the Department of Land and Natural Resources said.
The DLNR and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement officers are aware of the incident and the social media posting, however, the agencies cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, according to the press release.
The public 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.
“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,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla.
Anyone who witnessed or has information on the case of harassment is encouraged to call the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement 643-DLNR or NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement at (800) 853-1964. Tips can also be submitted via the DLNRTip app.