Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 157, Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kaena Point, Ohau, Hawaii

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kaena Point, Ohau, Hawaii

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kaena Point, Ohau, Hawaii

We rode out to Kaena Point on the garage sale mountain bikes, and we walked out on the rocks there. As we came over one mound of lava rock heading out to the very point, we came upon this Hawaiian Monk Seal. There are only about 1200 of these left and they are on the endangered species list. I didn't know this, and it didn't matter since we did not come out to harass it. We just happened upon it and so we backed off. Before I got too far, I took a few shots. I also switched out lenses to give the animal some space and so these are all taken with my 70 mm to 300 mm lens.

As you can see, he doesn't look too good. I felt that the animal had come up to rest or just maybe that the animal had come up to die. It didn't even have the ability to bark at us, just a muted, almost pained whimper. It seemed to have an infection in its eyes and there were more then a few scars on the animal. There was no sign of pups, which would have made me nervous. As a diver, I know that one thing you do not get between is a Seal, or Sea Lion and its pups. They may seem playful and fun, but they can take you apart pretty quick.

There were some local spear fishermen coming out of the water at the same time, they said that they would call the authorities about the seal. We headed back from the rocks and did not go out on them to the point to give the seal some room. I hope that I was really wrong and the animal was just tired. It is still amazing that you can come face to face with a creature like that in what seems a very remote place. That there are still places like that is really a grand thing.

By the way, my iPhone worked perfect on the beach at the point. I checked email and voice mail. As soon as we were back at the road an in the rental car I tried to make a call, no signal. How is it that a place as remote as that can have great full strength signal, but the civilization part drops the calls? Go figure.

Thanks for looking.
EXIF Data,

Camera:Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure:0.001 sec (1/1000)
Focal Length:210 mm
ISO Speed:200
Exposure Bias:0 EV


  1. Aloha;

    First let me thank you for being so respectful of this animal. I wish there were more people like you.

    I can't say for sure which particular seal this is, however there haven't been any reports of ailing seals. It is EXTREMELY common to see the Hawaiian Monk Seals sunning themselves along the coast and this spot happens to be one of their favorites.

    I am a volunteer and often called out to populated areas where one of these animals decides to spend the day sunny. The number one question "Is it sick? Is it dead?"

    Again my friend thank you for being so repectful and by the way those photos are magnificent!

  2. Glad to hear that there have not been any problems with the animals. I was more worried about the animal when I came home and was doing a little internet time about the seals and I read about the eye infections that have been a problem for the captive animals. This one seemed to have that going on, but was wild.

    The site that referenced it had an email for a Dr Alonso Aguirre. But when I went back and looked it was for the Wildlife Trust in NY. My email couldn't be delivered with the pics of the animal. Now that I think about it, there was bit of color off the back of the animal, like a bit of thick fishing line, was that a tag? I guess I could have looked for that and then that could have helped you id the animal.

    Thanks for looking at my site.