Posted on May 2, 2024 in DOCARE, Main, News Releases, slider


May 1, 2024


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(HONOLULU) – Federal, state and county agencies and nonprofit organizations have again joined together to keep people and Hawaiian monk seals safe during peak pupping season.

Early this morning, Kaiwi (RK96) pupped at Kaimana Beach. This is the third offspring she’s delivered at Kaimana. Her three other pups were born along her namesake – the Kaiwi Coast in East O’ahu.

Monk seal births in Waikīkī draw crowds, and distance is crucial for everyone’s safety — humans and animals, alike.

“We’re so excited for the birth of another pup,” said Kilali Gibson, Oʻahu Marine Wildlife Response Coordinator, NOAA Fisheries. “These seals are some of the most endangered seals in the world, so each new pup is vital to the population. They’ll be together for the nursing period for the next 5-7 weeks and giving them lots of undisturbed space will be key to the pup’s survival. By staying behind the perimeter and choosing to swim at a different beach, you can play a big part in helping to recover this endangered species.”

Staff and volunteers from Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response (HMAR) immediately put-up caution signs and ropes to create a safety corridor around the resting seal. HMAR President Jon Gelman said, “After so many years of doing this, our folks really understand the process. Once the pup becomes more active, and begins going into the ocean with its mother, we will constantly be working with our partners, as necessary, to modify our support plan to keep people and animals safely apart.”

Chief Jason Redulla, of the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) says officers will start around-the-clock overwatch at Kaimana Beach when the pair begins going into the ocean, or sooner if it becomes necessary.

“Last year the safety cordon on the beach basically stretched from where the seals were resting to the opposite side of the beach,” Redulla explained. “We left an entrance corridor where we can better monitor people coming in and out of the water. When seals are in the water, officers on personal watercraft will warn everyone to exit the ocean. Anyone who does not heed the warnings could be cited for obstructing a government operation.”

Lifeguards with the City and County of Honolulu Ocean Safety Division will also make public announcements when people need to get out of the water. “We encourage anyone who frequents Kaimana or is visiting for the first time, to pay close attention to the lifeguards’ announcements. Lifeguards will be warning swimmers of hazards in the ocean,” said Ocean Safety Acting Chief Kurt Lager.

“We are encouraged to see our wildlife utilizing these public beaches as part of their natural life cycle, and for the public to have the opportunity to witness nature at its finest from a safe distance,” said Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation Director Laura H. Thielen. “It is an important reminder of the balance we must strive to achieve between enjoying these areas recreationally and stewarding these lands, so that future generations can experience and learn from these magnificent creatures. Mahalo to our partnering organizations for their assistance in helping to mālama our precious environment.”

Seals are large powerful animals. In the water, they can quickly overtake a person that they view as a threat. During pupping, mother seals are especially protective of their offspring. Two years ago, a 60-year-old California school teacher was seriously injured when she encountered Rocky (RH58) and her pup, while swimming. DLNR did not charge her, after an investigation revealed she didn’t know the animals were in the water.

That incident prompted an enhanced public safety approach to seals that pup in highly visible or visited locales, which was instituted last year, and is back this year. Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered seal species, but their numbers have been increasing in the main Hawaiian Islands over the last decade. The majority of seals continue to call the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands home.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR) 

HD video – Kaimana monk seals (web feature) (May 1, 2024):



Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Communications Director

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