Tourist Fined in Hawaii for Harassing Endangered Species

Image: Close up of turtle.  (photo via photographywest /iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Image: Close up of turtle. (photo via photographywest /iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Donald Wood
by Donald Wood
Last updated: 5:11 PM ET, Tue August 28, 2018

A tourist from Alabama was forced to pay a $1,500 fine for posting videos on social media of himself harassing a sea turtle and touching a monk seal while on vacation in Hawaii.

According to The Associated Press, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the man was visiting Kauai last year when he posted the videos. Officers tracked down the man's address through social media and issued the fine.

The unidentified tourist posted a video in which he woke up a sleeping monk seal on Poipu Beach before panning to a sign from the NOAA urging beachgoers to maintain a safe distance from wildlife.

Hawaiian monk seals are protected by state and federal laws as a critically endangered species.

"Violations are usually the result of things like tourists wanting to get a good, close picture with a seal or a thrill-seeker trying to get a rush," NOAA wildlife management coordinator Adam Kurtz said. "But it's really frustrating when you see people harass these animals."

While investigating the incident, officials also found another video of the man aggressively pursuing a sea turtle while snorkeling at Poipu. The AP revealed that all species of sea turtles in United States waters are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

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