Monday, January 28, 2002

Monk seal kicks
back at Sunset

The creature minds its
own business during
yesterday's surf meet

Star-Bulletin staff

A yearling monk seal got a look at a surf meet held by Faith Co. yesterday at Sunset Beach on the North Shore and then dragged itself up on the sandy area of what is commonly called Val's Reef.

No one is harassing the seal, so no action is being taken, said Ocean Safety Division Capt. Bobo Van Der Leeden.

"If anyone did try to harass it, we'd do our best to keep them away," Van Der Leeden said.

He said the seal came up at midday first at the "Backyards" surf area and got disturbed too much and moved to a quieter spot.

"It's about 6 feet long and looks like a nicely rounded person on the beach," Van Der Leeden said.

Roger Dainard, conservation officer of the Department of Land & Natural Resources, inspected the seal and estimated it to be 250 pounds. The seal bore no marks on its body and was molting, which he had never seen before, he said.

"She looked clean, fat and sassy, just taking in some rays just like everybody else," Dainard said.

He said they had to shoo away some children and an unleashed dog.

Lifeguards cordoned off the area and made sure people kept their distance.

Having monk seals come up on beaches is not unusual, and Dainard has seen it happen two to three times a week sometimes along the North Shore.

Last week, he saw two large adults at Mokuleia Beach Park.

"Most folks are very good about it."

He has property owners keeping an eye on the seal at Sunset Beach.

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