HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – NOAA has slapped two visitors with a $500 fine after social media videos revealed the tourists harassing endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
Videos showed a Louisiana woman disturbing a seal on Kauai while in another incident a man touched a seal on another island.
The videos sparked outrage among community members, with some urging the state to do more to educate visitors.
Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, making it illegal to touch, harass, injure or kill the animals.
Officials said harassing the monk seals is a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
NOAA said once the man and woman pay the fine, they will close their investigation.
Meanwhile, Kauai’s prosecuting attorney said the harassers can still be prosecuted under state or federal law.
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