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Man Arrested After Brutally Beating Pregnant Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

May 02, 2016 11:55 AM EDT
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Authorities in Hawaii reportedly arrested a 19-year-old man after footage of him beating a pregnant, endangered monk seal made rounds on the Internet.

On Tuesday, witnesses of the brutal incident called the County officials to inform them about the attack which happened at the Salt Pond Beach in Kauai. The police then brought the issue to the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.

The 18-second long clip allegedly shows the local Shylo Akuna, repeatedly throwing blows at the marine mammal as it tries to crawl back into the water to avoid the hits, Carbonated TV reports.

Wildlife officials identified the seal as RK3 who is well known in town as she is easily recognized because of the shark bites and evident scar around her neck caused by a fish line entanglement.

"She's a well-known adult here on Kauai for being a survivor as well as being an excellent mother," said Jammie Thomton, Kauai's marine mammal response coordinator for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association told Hawaiinews.

The seal, roughly 17 years old, is nearing the end of her seventh pregnancy, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

National Geographic calls Hawaiian monk seal as a "rare tropical exception," as most seals live in frigid countries. While they spend most of their time at sea, they often go ashore to rest. Hawaiian monk seals are endangered and their numbers are believed to have fallen more than ten percent per year since 1989, the article ntoes.

Since the attack, onlookers claim they have seen RK30 "resting comfortably" on the same beach with no visible injuries.

However, the attack still poses a concern for wildlife officials. Akuna faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted of harassing the monk seal, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Huffingtonpost notes that this is not the first time a seal monk has been abused. In December 2014, a female pup was found bludgeoned to death along Kauai's eastern coast. And in 2009, a 78-year-old man was sentenced to 90 days in jail after shooting a pregnant monk seal to death.

Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho, who has also seen the clip already made a statement saying that the behavior is unacceptable and illegal and that everyone should strive hard to protect the Hawaiian monk which is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

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