Early-morning visitors to Hanauma Bay got a treat Thursday when they found a Hawaiian monk seal resting on the beach.
Swimmers say the seal was swimming parallel to the beach before hauling itself on the sand at around 6:50 a.m.
Department of Land and Natural Resources chair Suzanne Case and Division of Aquatic Resources administrator Dr. Bruce Anderson happened to be at the bay for a tour and helped set up cones around the resting seal to keep curious people and photographers back.
Hawaii Marine Animal Response staff and volunteers arrived a little later and set up caution signs.
The seal re-entered the water shortly after 9 a.m. and was last seen swimming back toward the open ocean.
The seal’s identity remains a mystery, but officials say it could possibly be Rocky, the monk seal that gave birth on a Waikiki beach over the summer.
Officials are reminding the public to keep a safe distance from seals resting or sleeping on the beach.
Harassing endangered Hawaiian monk seals in any way violates both federal and state marine mammal protection laws.