May 28, 2024  |  
 | Remer,MN
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Brad Matthews

NextImg:Part of popular beach in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii closed off due to birth of endangered seal pup

Part of the popular Kaimana Beach in Waikiki on the Hawaiian island of Oahu has been closed off in order to give an endangered Hawaiian monk seal and its newborn pup some space.

The seal, named Kaiwi, gave birth on April 14. This marked the fifth birth for Kaiwi, who had previously birthed a pup on Kaimana Beach in 2021. 

The newborn pup adds to the small and endangered population of Hawaiian monk seals — around 400 live in the main windward Hawaiian islands, while almost 1,200 more live in the leeward islands and coral atolls to the northwest of the rest of the chain, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A temporary fence and 50-yard cordon including the water have been implemented, so as to protect the seals and human interlopers from each other. Mother seals are territorial and protective of pups, and have bitten swimmers in the past, causing serious injury.

Detecting the fast-swimming and hard-to-spot seals in the water is difficult, and officials with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources recommend locals and tourists alike find a different beach for their recreation.

Kaiwi will nurse her pup for around five to seven weeks. Once the pup and mother separate, the cordon on Kaimana Beach and in surrounding waters will be removed.

Anyone that violates the cordon on land or at sea faces the possibility of citation or arrest. The misdemeanor citation for disrupting government operations can net those convicted a one-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $1,000.

Attempts to harass, pursue, capture or kill one of the seals, whether successful or not, are a felony offense, carrying over one year in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

The April 14 birth marked the third consecutive year a monk seal gave birth to a pup on Kaimana Beach.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at