Ocean wildlife officials are investigating what appears to be another case of harassment toward a Hawaiian monk seal.
A viewer sent us video that shows a man in shallow water off Kauai’s Salt Pond Beach. He’s holding a dog dangerously close to the seal.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were first alerted to the incident Tuesday evening by someone who witnessed the confrontation.
In the video, which was also shared with NOAA, you can clearly see the federally protected monk seal, as well as the individual who’s restraining the dog.
While the two animals never made contact with one another, NOAA officials say their proximity could have quickly escalated into a very dangerous situation for all involved.
“Those kind of interactions can lead to injury to the dog or to the seal,” said Angela Amlin, NOAA. “A monk seal is a large animal. They do have teeth. They certainly can fight back if provoked by a dog.”
NOAA says most of the monk seals that frequent Hawaiian waters are tagged, but the video didn’t get a close enough look to identify this particular seal.
NOAA also says it will investigate the incident to determine who was involved and if there were any violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
In the meantime, NOAA wants to remind the public that it’s important to keep a safe distance from the seals, and to keep your dogs as far away from them as possible.