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Public asked to give space to endangered monk seal

HONOLULU (AP) — The public should give adequate space to ensure the safety of a monk seal that has been resting on an Oahu beach, officials said.

The female seal identified as 8-year-old Kaiwi has come onto a Waikiki beach in Honolulu four times in recent days, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species protected by state and federal laws that typically forages at night and “hauls up” to rest on beaches during the day, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Volunteers from Hawaii Marine Animal Response set up a border around Kaiwi and are keeping an eye on her from sunup to sundown.

Members of the public in the high traffic area should remain behind the protective barriers and avoid taking photographs close to the animal.

“There’s a lot going on in Waikiki, so any time a seal hauls up in a high human-use area, we ask people to use precaution to keep the noise level to a minimum and to give a seal some space,” said Dave Schofield, a NOAA marine mammal response coordinator.

Kaiwi has previously given birth to pups in south and east Oahu, although she does not appear to be pregnant at this time, he said.

“This would be the time of year that she would give birth based on her previous puppings,” Schofield said. “However, she’s not as large as we would expect to see her if she was giving birth at the beginning of May.”