An endangered Hawaiian monk seal pup was born at Kaimana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The mother seal, named Kaiwi, took her newborn pup for their first swim together when the pup turned only six days old.
Hawaiian monk seals are extremely vulnerable to extinction, and each life is irreplaceable. Hawaiian monk seals are also culturally significant. Native Hawaiians consider the seals to be kūpuna, or ancestors.
To protect the mother-pup duo, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Hawaiian agencies fenced an area of the beach so the seals can roam without intrusions.
Officials will patrol the area on jet skis to ensure that people keep their distance from the endangered seals – 150 feet away, to be exact. Violators will be fined or arrested.
The restrictions aim to give the precious pup the best chance at life in the wild. If the newborn becomes too accustomed to humans, he may not survive.
The fences also protect human beachgoers.
“Monk seal mothers, like all mothers, are protective of their young,” explained Diana Kramer, the regional marine wildlife response coordinator for NOAA Fisheries. “They have bit(ten) and injured swimmers when they perceive(d) them as a threat.”
We at Lady Freethinker thank the many agencies working together to protect this invaluable mother-pup pair. We’d also like to take this time to remind everyone to watch wildlife from afar so that they can stay safe and act out their natural behaviors. If you ever come across a marine mammal who appears to be in distress, it’s always best to call a certified professional — including from a nearby marine mammal stranding network — and follow their advice.