Some viewers might find this video disturbing.
Authorities in Hawaii reportedly arrested a man for beating a pregnant, endangered monk seal on the shallow surf of Salt Pond Beach in Kauai, after footage of the unsettling incident went viral on the internet.
The video clip, captured by a witness on Tuesday, shows the silhouette of a man continuously striking the marine mammal as it tries to lumber back into the water to avoid the blows. The wildlife officials identified the seal as RK30, which is about 17 years old and pregnant.
“She's a well-known adult here on Kauai for being a survivor as well as being an excellent mother,” said Jammie Thomton, Kauai's marine mammal response coordinator for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. “I share our community’s shock and disappointment as this behavior is both unacceptable and illegal.”
The police arrested 19-year-old Shylo Akuna, a native of Eleele, a day after video of the incident began making rounds. Since Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and state law, harassing, disturbing or injuring a one is a crime. If convicted, Akuna could face a fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
“The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world,” said Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho. “They deserve our respect and protection, and our gratitude goes out to the bystanders who immediately contacted authorities. This behavior is both unacceptable and illegal.”
The monk seals are only found in Hawaii and according to official estimates, there are only 1,060 of them left.