WATCH: Nursing monk seal attacks swimmer to protect her pup in Hawaii

Jolanie Martinez talks to people who saw the Hawaiian mother monk seal and swimmer encounter at Kaimana Beach. (Source: HawaiiNewsNow)
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 4:56 PM CDT
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) – A protective monk seal attacked a swimmer in Waikiki on Sunday morning.

The encounter was caught on camera around 8 a.m. at Kaimana Beach.

Before the incident, witness Markus Faigle said the monk seal mom appeared to lose her pup around the corner and started barking.

“I can’t imitate it, but it basically freezes your soul because she’s looking for the pup, and then she found the pup, and then she went back to the part where she normally is, the Diamond Head side of the beach,” Faigle said.

Video shows the woman swimming about 20 to 25 feet offshore. Once her head pops out of the water, the mother monk seal charges at her.

“So, I guess that’s mother’s instinct to protect her pup,” said witness Curt Otsuka. “Everybody was yelling ‘Careful, careful, get away.’”

Marine life officials said the woman was previously warned of the dangers of being in the area.

Bystanders pulled her from the water. Witnesses said the woman appeared to have an injury to her upper arm. EMS crews responded and took her for further treatment.

Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources said the woman is a 60-year-old elementary school teacher from California. She and her husband, who have been in Hawaii for three weeks, were questioned by state officials to learn more about what happened.

Signs and a rope perimeter were up along that stretch of shoreline ever since a monk seal mom named Rocky gave birth to a pup there in early July.

The Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) team are keeping a watchful eye on the monk seal pair. In a statement, the HMAR team reminds people to respect posted warning signs and keep their distance on land and in the water.

“People are again reminded that Hawaiian monk seal moms with pups are protective, can be dangerous, and have inflicted serious wounds on nearby swimmers. We continue to warn people not to engage in in-water activities when a monk seal mother with a pup are in the area and to stay at least 150 feet from mother seals with pups,” HMAR said.

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