One of the most critically endangered marine mammals on earth, the Hawaiian Monk Seal, can be seen on the beaches of Kauai. And, peak birthing season for monk seals is right around the corner.
Despite 2014 being a banner year for pup births, with five being born on the island, Kauai’s monk seal population is estimated to be between 4045. The good news is these numbers aren’t a reflection of your chances of seeing one of these cuties.
Hawaiian monk seals can sometimes be seen sunbathing on Poipu Beach (and also along the remote beaches of the Napali Coast). This is because Kauai is the island closest to monk seals’ principal feeding grounds.
But with so few of these blubbering beauties left, it’s vitally important to ensure their survival. Here are some guidelines to follow should a monk seal pop up on your shoreline:
- You’ll typically see barricades, signs or tape roping off the area around a basking seal. You should always stay behind barricades and at least 150 feet away from these 400600 pound mammals in unmarked areas.
- Never approach or try to feed a seal on the beach, while swimming, or from a boat. Since Hawaiian Monk Seals are critically endangered, and also naïve, they can easily be taught to rely on humans to feed them – and doing so would be detrimental to their survival.
- Don’t throw anything at a seal or disturb it in any way. State and federal laws prohibit harassment or disturbing Hawaiian Monk Seals. Not obeying the law could mean a $25,000 fine and up to five years in jail.
- Take photos from a safe distance and don’t use a flash.
May is peak birthing season. Seal pups are born weighing about 35 pounds and gain a whopping 100150 pounds in six weeks from nursing. The mothers fast during this time and convert blubber into rich milk (which has twice the calories of heavy whipping cream). Pups only spend about 40 days with their mothers before they’re abruptly weaned from nursing and the mother leaves her baby for good during the night. It sounds like a harsh separation, but by this time the young seal pup is healthy, a strong swimmer, and able to get food on its own.
Our Koloa Landing staff would be happy to help and offer advice on the most likely times to spot a sunbathing seal, along our sunny South Shore. Call us at 808-240-6600 to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members today.