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A tourist in Hawaii fined for harassment of endangered animals

A tourist in Hawaii will pay a $1500 fine for harassment of endangered animals.

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An Alabama man was fined $1500 for the touch of a Hawaiian monk seal as harassing a sea turtle in Kauai and then posting the videos on social media.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said the Alabama resident, who was on vacation on Kauai last year agreed to pay the fine, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Friday.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement in Hawaii used to man the social media accounts to track down his home address.

The Alabama man in the video published on Instagram with the hashtag #monkseals, walks up to a sleeping monk seal on Poipu Beach at night and strokes it with his hand. The startled seal quickly turns to him and he walks away.

The man panned his camera on a character from the NOAA urging beach goers to maintain a safe distance from the animals.

“The violations are usually the result of things, such as tourists who want a good, close photo with a seal or a thrill-seeker trying to get a rush,” Adam Kurtz, NOAA Fisheries, wildlife management coordinator, said in a statement. “But it is really frustrating when you see people harassing these animals.”

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species. They are protected by both state and federal laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The man could be injured because Hawaiian monk seals are wild animals that can act unpredictably, Kurtz said. The seal could have turned on the guy instead of just turning in the direction of him.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials, while the investigation into the man’s Instagram account, also found a video of him aggressively pursuing a sea turtle while snorkeling at Poipu.

All species of sea turtles in U.S. waters are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to NOAA.

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