PO’IPU — Volunteers are being sought to help provide a 24-hour watch for an
endangered Hawaiian monk seal pup that was born on Po’ipu Beach early yesterday
The watch is not just for the protection of the pup, the second
monk seal born this year, said Don Heacock, state aquatic
Beachgoers are also at risk from the seal’s 700-pound mother who
is nursing the pup near the keiki pool at the beach.
Heacock said signup
sheets for watch volunteers are located at one of the beach’s pavilions.
Volunteers can also call 335-0941.
The watch is a multi-agency effort
between the Kaua’i Monk Seal Watch Program, the state Department of Land and
Natural Resources, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Humpback
The Hawaiian monk seal is very sensitive to human
presence, said Heacock.
Undisturbed rest for the monk seals on land is
critical. The seal pup needs every ounce of its mother’s milk to survive, and
disturbances may cause the mother to flee the area, officials said.
mothers with pups can be extremely aggressive in defense of their young and
will chase off people and dogs that get too close. Heacock said dogs are to be
kept out of the area, and people need to act responsibly when viewing the
The weaning of the pup could take up to six weeks. In order to
ensure the survival of the pup and its mother, National Marine Fisheries
Service is asking for cooperation in minimizing the disturbance to these
animals. The monk seal is the most endangered marine mammal species in the
world, according to the fisheries service. Heacock said the monk seal
population on Kaua’i has gone from one in 1986 to 13 this year.
against state and federal laws to harrass monk seals.
Here are some
guidelines from officials for properly viewing the animals:
* Observe from
at least 150 feet away.
* Keep noises to a minimum.
* Limit viewing
time to 30 minutes.
* Monk seals should not be trapped or encircled between
boats or shore.
* The seals may exhibit inquisitive behavior. Do not
attempt to approach them or play with them, or wake them when they’re
* Keep dogs out of the area.
* Remain out of sight.
Cooperate with officials on the scene and respect fencing and signs.
monk seals exhibit one of the following behaviors, move away:
movement away from a disturbance and toward the water.
* Sudden awakening
* Female attempting to shield a pup with her body or by her
* Vocalization or “growling.”
Volunteers will be at Poipu
Beach Park to provide information about monk seals and responsible viewing
Assistant managing editor Brandon Sprague can be
reached at 245-3681, ext. 226 or