A Louisiana couple is under fire after touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal during their honeymoon to Hawaii last month.
The couple, Stephen and Lakyn, posted a video to the wife’s TikTok account showing herself touching a seal that was on the Kauai beach. The seal immediately reacted to the woman’s touch by raising its head and snapping at her. You can see in the video that the animal was visibly startled by the interaction. The video was quickly shared on the internet and garnered a lot of attention for the fact that touching the seals is a big no-no.
The wife’s TikTok account has since been set to private since the couple has received numerous death threats against them.
The couple has since apologized for making a terrible mistake by touching the endangered seal. “We’re deeply sorry,” Stephen said Monday during a phone interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We love Hawaii and the culture. We didn’t mean to offend anyone. We respect the culture.”
Stephen went on to say that it was the first time they have seen a Hawaiian monk seal and the two were unaware of the laws pertaining to these creatures. However, this excuse did not keep the couple from getting in trouble with the law and the two have been sentenced to pay a fine, the amount of that fine has not been verified.
According to NOAA this act of touching or harassing a Hawaiian monk seal is considered a Class C felony under state and federal laws. Violators can face penalties of up to five years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.
It is estimated that there are about 1,400 monk seals living, with approximately 1,100 of them being located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and 300 in the main Hawaiian Islands.
NOAA recommends the public view monk seals from at least 50 feet away. For additional information on marine wildlife viewing guidelines, visit 808ne.ws/marinelifeviewing.
You can view the video of the incident HERE.