Monk seals murdered on Molokai

SOURCE: Surfrider Foundation Kauai (
SUBHEAD: Walter Ritte, "These seals are not invasive; they are like the Hawaiian people who are struggling to survive in their own lands."

 By Walter Ritte on 23 December 2011 for Na Mea Hulu -  

Image above: Monk seal pup swimming in ocean. From (

[IB Editor's note: Walter Ritte is a Hawaiian and sovereignty activist who has fought against GMO. tourism and speculative development ruining Molokai for a generation.]

 The death of these Hawaiian Monk Seals on Molokai is an indication of a dangerous trend that must be stopped. Our elders are saying that these seals are not Hawaiian. Our young people are calling these seals an invasive species brought in by government. The seals are now the easy targets of blame for the many ills of our depleting fisheries. We need to stand up for the truth: These seals are not only Hawaiian, but have been here longer than the Hawaiians. These seals are not invasive; they are like the Hawaiian people who are struggling to survive in their own lands. Hawaiians need to see themselves when they see a Hawaiian Monk Seal. How we treat the seals, is how we can be expected to be treated as Hawaiians in Hawaii.

Background: Kaunakakai, Molokai
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in cooperation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is investigating the deaths of two Hawaiian monk seals on the south shore of Molokai.

A young female was found dead this past week. This follows the death of an adult male seal in mid-November. Necropsies indicate that both seals appear to have died under suspicious circumstances and that foul play cannot be ruled out as the cause of death in either case.

“I was saddened to hear of these two incidents, especially the loss of a young female who would have helped restore the diminished seal population.” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “Monk seals are an important part of the Hawaiian ecosystem and need to be respected as a valued part of our natural and cultural environment. The harm to one is a blow to Hawaii,” he said.

In June 2010, the Legislature passed Act 165*, specifically to increase penalties for taking (which is defined to include harassing or killing) a monk seal. It’s a Class C felony (up to 5 years imprisonment). Someone convicted under this law could face a fine of up to $50,000. It is also against federal law to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal.

Anyone having information related to these deaths should call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at (808) 873-3990 or after hours call 643-DLNR.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Mediterranean Monk Seal Secret 1/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Endangered Monk Seal in Turkey 1/23/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Loss of Monk Seals on Kauai 5/27/09 .

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