A TikTok video of a tourist disturbing a Hawaiian monk seal has not only gone viral, but it has also renewed calls by locals to educate visitors visiting the islands.
The Hawaiian islands see more than 30,000 travelers a day. These tourists are inundated with flyers, ads, and videos by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Department of Land and Natural Resources not to touch wild animals or trespass.
Residents feel it is not enough and are fed up with what they think are acts of disrespect.
When the TikTok video of a Louisiana woman disturbing a sleeping monk seal on Kauai went viral last week, Hawaiians pointed out that visitors are not getting the message.
HTC Chief Brand Officer Kalani Ka’ana’ana said, “Obviously, it’s a federal offense; we were outraged to see this behavior.”
About 1,400 estimated Hawaiian monk seals are alive today and are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Actions that harm, capture, injure, harass or kill protected animals is punishable through fines and jail time.
State Senator Bennette Misalucha supported a resolution last session that would have required travelers to Hawaii to sign an official document pledging to respect the native cultural values and acknowledge the fragility of the islands’ ecosystem.
Unfortunately, the senate resolution failed to pass the house.