Swimmer’s dangerous encounter with Hawaiian monk seal and pup caught on camera

As per the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the perilous incident took place on Sunday morning at approximately 8:30 a.M. Local time on Kaimana Beach in the southern Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki. This is where Rocky, the mother seal who recently gave birth, was visibly upset and troubled after her offspring disappeared from view and seemingly ventured into the decrepit previous swimming pool of the nearby Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial.

A 60-year-old unnamed elementary school teacher was videotaping and watching her husband while he swam in the natatorium, which was located about 150 feet off the shore on the 12th floor of the condominium. There were no seals visible in the ocean or on the beach, and there were still no lifeguards in their tower, despite there being 10 swimmers in the water at Kaimana Beach.

As per the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the assault occurs approximately 30 seconds later, during which the couple and eyewitnesses were interviewed. Conversely, the seals retreat into the water and commence swimming towards the lady, while Rocky and her offspring seem to be heading back to the shoreline. The footage, which was submitted to authorities, depicts the woman engaging in swimming.

Once again, while bringing her canoe outrigger to the shore, three rescuers, including one in a canoe outrigger, were swimming towards the seals. When I got down to the beach, I heard people waving and screaming at her, and then she stands up, thinking, “I’m going to die,” as quoted by her husband. She hears people screaming on the beach for swimmers to get out of the water, but she couldn’t hear the 50 or so people. My wife appeared to have a swim cap on her head when she was in the water, both seals were present.

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He stated, “We have spent three weeks in Hawaii and observed the baby seal at Kaimana right after it was born.” “We have familiarized ourselves with all the guidelines for observing the seals and adhere to them. She was unaware of these guidelines, and these seals approached her from behind. I think the noise and activity on the beach probably contributed to her frustration, along with her distress from being separated from her pup.”

The woman sustained cuts to her face, back, and arm. She recounted a horrifying ordeal, informing officials, “Neither of us could get any sleep last night. Whenever I shut my eyes, I visualized the mouth of the mother seal.”

She also said, “I am a teacher who cares a lot about wildlife and the environment.” “I teach my students about conservation.” “I have brought them to the shore and collected discarded fishing hooks and entangled fishing line.” “Three years ago, it was reported that I saw a sea turtle entangled in fishing line.”

Her husband added, “There is no one to hold responsible in this situation. All my wife did was engage in swimming, and unfortunately, she happened to be at an unfavorable location during an unfortunate moment.”

Markus Faigle, a resident of Honolulu, also observed the incident on Sunday and recorded it on video.

“On Tuesday, during the ABC News interview, Good Morning America reported that Faigle, a young mother, defended herself and tried to deal with the intruder she perceived to be a threat. She demonstrated great distress while protecting her puppy, which is significant to me.”

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“But monk seals are untamed creatures,” he remarked. “It is an exceedingly regrettable incident that this occurred, but my sympathy is extended to this unfortunate woman. I have never in my existence witnessed something of this nature.”

The woman found during a state investigation stated that the Department of Natural Resources and Land in Hawaii was not even aware of the seals in the water, and they did nothing to provoke the incident.

The Hawaiian monk seal, which is considered one of the most at-risk seal species globally, is native to the Hawaiian Islands and is safeguarded under state law, as well as the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with fewer than 1,600 individuals estimated to exist in the wild, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Under federal and state laws, intentionally touching, capturing, harassing, injuring, or killing a Hawaiian monk seal is considered a felony, with penalties including a fine of $50,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.

Two weeks ago, the latest pup of Rocky was born, according to Marine Animal Response, a Kailua-based nonprofit conservation organization that helps monitor Hawaii’s threatened and endangered marine species. Since then, a group along with NOAA Fisheries has been monitoring the shoreline where live seals are roped off and signs warn beachgoers of the dangers, urging people to stay away from the close proximity.

While Hawaiian monk seals are typically not aggressive, mothers nursing can become protective of their pups and nearby swimmers may suffer serious injuries.

The Marine Animal Response in Hawaii stated on Monday that while the pup and mom are on the beach, we strongly recommend swimming at any of these other beaches during the next few weeks. In addition, Hawaii has many beautiful beaches, including Kaimana Beach, which is just a short distance away. Although there is no specific regulation regarding approaching Hawaiian monk seals, we recommend keeping a minimum distance of 150 feet from both mother seals and Hawaiian monk seals to ensure their safety.

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