The investigation into the recent deaths of three Hawaiian monk seals on Molokai is continuing by officers from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE).
A non-tagged, so unidentified juvenile male seal was found dead at Paka’a beach on the west end of the island on June 25. Another seal, RJ26, a juvenile male, born at Kalaupapa in April, 2017, was found dead on June 18 on the east end of Molokai near mile marker 22. This is in addition to the death of seal RJ42 reported in May. This brings the total deaths believed to be from human inflicted trauma on Molokai to eight, since 2009.
Community leaders Walter Ritte, Malia Akutagawa, and La’a Poepoe issued this statement: “We are deeply troubled and concerned about the killings of our monk seals. This is not pono. The Kumulipo teaches us that we as people possess ancestral and familial ties to all manifestations of creation, including to the kinolau (physical body form and divine essence) of ocean god Kanaloa. The monk seal is kinolau of Kanaloa. The ocean gives and the ocean takes away. To be lawaiʻa pono, fishers that observe the kānāwai (the greater laws of our kūpuna) in order that we may receive continual blessings from the sea, we live in a way that honors and co-exists with those who are kinolau of akua Kanaloa. The settlement of monk seals and birthing of new pups on our shores are gifts from Kanaloa, not a threat to our fishery. To kill monk seals means to dishonor Kanaloa and the kānāwai — and ultimately, it means to alienate our own selves and destroy our human dignity.”
NOAA’s Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, Ann Garrett said, “We are saddened by these seal deaths and we are committed to working with community leaders to promote acceptance and understanding of monk seals and support for their conservation.”
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “We hope that anyone who has information on these deaths will step forward. Hawaiian monk seals are both important natural and cultural resources in Hawai‘i. With fewer than 1,400 remaining in the wild the loss of even one seal is a tremendous set-back for all the efforts underway to protect them.”
Anyone with information on these deaths or to report marine mammals and sea turtles in trouble is asked to call 888-256-9840.