(CNN) – This is “RK – 30.” Noaa considers her Kauai’s most “easily identifiable” monk seal, because of her battle wounds: Shark bites, boat propeller and neck entanglement scars. She’s believed to be around 17 years old.
“An interesting tidbit on RK 30 – Noaa says the monk seal was pregnant with her 7th known child. She’s large, and appears to be approaching her due date.”
Noaa tells me it quickly learned of the incident. “We responded immediately, phone started ringing off the hook. Assessed her health.” I’m told “rk-30” was “ok”. Noaa says a “special agent” stationed on Oahu flew to Kauai today to investigate.
Federal authorities are now actively searching for the man in the video. Monk seals are protected under the endangered species act. Anyone caught harming a monk seal can be fined up to 50 thousand dollars, and/or one year in prison.
I learned Noaa gets several reports of people “intentionally harming” a monk seal on Kauai each year – but there often isn’t enough evidence to go forth with claims.
“We may receive a report second hand, third hand, saying they observed something, but we don’t have photographic evidence of that.”
Noaa says it’s important to capture abuse on video and report it. “We are finding each year more and more monk seals are accepted on Kauai. Locals are taking protections in their own hands.”