Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hawaiian Monk Seal of the Anniversary '09

Every year my wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary on the water (lucky us!), and amazingly something extraordinary happens every year. For example, last year we rescued about twenty men and local youngsters who were drifting offshore on a large broken Hawaiian sailing canoe. We towed them to the harbor at the speed of 2 knot for hours. They thanked us at the harbor, and then we went back out to the sea and encountered my first whale shark of my life!  Wow! Right? Good Karma? Maybe.

This year was no exception. After we spent a lazy morning at home, we got to the harbor late. Morning rush hour was over and nobody was pulling up to launch a boat at the ramp. Actually there was no one around us at the ramp that morning.

I dropped my wife and our two labrador retrievers at the top of the ramp, and she walked down to the middle pier at the ramp to help me launching the boat. Our dogs usually go for a quick dip for a while, so they ran to the launching slope.

As soon as I pulled up in the position to back down, my wife & dogs ran back and told me there was a Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, lying on the ramp and our dogs were almost bitten by it. Apparently our dogs disrupted the peacefully sleeping seal, and then, he growled or hissed at them harshly.


I parked my car and boat, and grabbed my camera to photograph this rare but interesting opportunity.

Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered. Sadly there are only 1,200 individuals remain in the wild. Most of them live in the north west Hawaiian Islands like Laysan and Midway. Not many hang out in the main Hawaiian Islands.


Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, basking at boat ramp, young male, critically endangered, Honokohau Harbor, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

But when a monk seal enters in a high human trafficking area such as a famous snorkeling spot, the officials usually capture it and relocate it to a remote place. This is to avoid any trouble between humans and the seal, but actually this is done to protect the commercial activities - the human interest. So I don't agree with the program.

It's a wildlife. Seals can stay wherever they want to. Look at the California, for example, seals and sea lions are everywhere, but somehow they are all living with humans.

If a beautiful snorkeling spot is occupied by seals, let them have it. Humans should be relocated, or share the spot with the seals at their own risk. That's right thing to do.

Well... I know that's very difficult. We'll have to keep educating people.


government officials and locals keeping eyes on Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, basking at boat ramp, young male, critically endangered, Honokohau Harbor, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean, No MR

As I shot some pictures, officials arrived, and shut down one part of the ramp temporarily to protect him. According to the officials, he was a famous young seal, born and raised on the remote, northern part of the Big Island near Waipio.

However, he has been regularly venturing out and been dangerously getting used to human activities, and started causing troubles with ignorant people who were trying to pet him.

He was a beautiful, small seal covered with thick, shiny slivery hairs. He appeared to be in good health and absolutely looked a lot happier and livelier than those in captivities.

Yes, of course, he can have the ramp to himself, and I'll go somewhere else to launch my boat! See we have no problem.

To be continued to: Kona Resident Great Frigatebird of the Anniversary '09.

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