I would think it would go without saying that you shouldn’t touch wildlife. However, apparently some people need it spelled out.
Hawaiian monk seals
Various news stations reported yesterday that the State has launched an investigation into people getting to close or even touching monk seals. Did you know, you can get fined up to $50,000 for harming or harassing a monk seal? Did you know Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species? Scientists estimate there are 1400 Hawaiian monk seals alive today – they think there are 1100 in the Northern (uninhabited) Hawaiian islands, and approximately 300 in the main Hawaiian islands. In fact, it makes the local news when monk seal pups are born.
Turtles are also included in Hawaii’s protected wildlife. Our family moved to Maui 11 years ago. When we first moved here, it was pretty rare to see turtles at the beach. In the past decade turtle sightings have become more common which is wonderful! However, please do not approach and definitely do not touch turtles. A number of years ago there was a crazy story about people trying to ride a turtle. Isn’t that a Disney thing?
The DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and NOAA both recommend keeping a distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) from turtles. Here is some information on what to do if you see an injured or entangled sea turtle.
Did you know there are five turtle species in Hawaii? The most common turtle species are green turtles and the endangered hawksbill turtles. A number of years ago we were able to witness the scientific unearthing of a hawksbill turtle nest. It was an incredible experience.
Coral reefs and reef fish
Snorkeling and diving are two of the most popular activities here in Hawaii. But did you know, stepping on the reef can cause significant damage to the coral? Please do not step on the reef and please also do not touch the coral or fish living in the reef. Do take pictures instead!
Yes we also have some not-so-endangered wildlife on Maui. In fact, wild boars and axis deer are considered invasive species and are hunted for population control purposes. Chance are great you will not see a wild boar, but do keep a lookout for them especially if out hiking. While generally human-shy, they will come down into populated areas in search for food. On occasion I have seen them as road kill on the side of the road. Last winter we actually had five baby pigs that came down the gulch and ran around our neighborhood until someone finally caught and relocated them.