Scientists: People getting too close to Hawaiian monk seals

HONOLULU — Government researchers say social media posts indicate the public is often getting too close to Hawaiian monk seals, a critically endangered species protected by federal and state law.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends staying 50 feet (15 meters) away from monk seals resting on a shoreline.

But researchers studying more than 2,000 posts uploaded to Instagram from October 2014 to September 2015 say about 22 percent showed people within 10 feet (3 meters) of a seal.

NOAA researcher Mark Sullivan tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser says that’s way too close.

The study found that 18% of the posts showed a monk seal responding to some type of disturbance by looking, moving away, or mouthing or barking.

The study examined posts with the hashtag #monkseal.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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