He’s known as B-18 and for the past week this endangered Hawaiian monk seal has been spotted repeatedly swimming in and around boats at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor on Hawaii Island. He’s feeding on fish scraps that have been thrown overboard. This has prompted the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) to remind people that it is against the law to dispose of fish scraps in state waters.
DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case said, “It would be a tragedy for this seal to be struck by a boat or propeller or to get caught up in netting or marine debris. We don’t want seals to become habituated or conditioned to people. Seals that are fed, even unintentionally by discarded fish scraps, can quickly become “problem seals” that associate people with food and seek out human interactions that are dangerous for seals and people. They are wild creatures and we want to keep them wild.”
All small boat harbors around the state have receptacles for the proper disposal of scraps and all other rubbish.” DOBOR staff at Honokohau is in the process of posting reminder signs around the harbor and in the harbormaster’s office to remind people to properly take care of fish scraps. They are also including reminders in monthly billing statements sent to boat owners who have moorings at the harbor. Case concluded, “This is not the only place where this has happened and it is not the first time it’s happened. With fewer than 1100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, it’s critical that everyone does their part to protect these creatures and show them our kokua.”