Kaanapali Beach, 4 pm The Hawaiian Monk seal shown in a data base as RU 305 asleep on Kaanapali Beach most of today returned to the ocean depths after visitors let him have a good nap by paying attention to this sign. RU 305 is a mother, completing a once-a year pregnancy last June. .
Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Oct. 4–Seal continues to sleep at 1 p.m. Friday but may move higher on beach since tide is now rising, new volunteers on the scene report.
To protect some 200 endangered monk seals who snooze on the beach at Hawaii’s eight principal islands, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a federal government agency) coördinates a special program to rope off 150 feet of Kaanapali and other beaches when the sea creatures return to shore for periodic long naps and to molt. But what happens when the government shuts down and NOAA closes down? One word: volunteers. A NOAA official usually shows up but most of the job of keeping visitors and surfers away from the seals up to 14 hours a day is carried out by volunteers who are on emergency call.
Visitors are kept back so the seals can get an uninterrupted rest that sometimes lasts for 24 hours. When a seal is spotted by a resort worker or even someone on the way to work, a call to a NOAA hotline sends the volunteers into action. Volunteers who range from retirees to teachers and even contractors speed to the beach, set up warning signs , rope off the area and stand guard keeping the curious away, often giving them an informed education on what the seals and the program is all about.
Volunteers are usually on duty four -hour shifts often in the hot sun during daylight hours with the seal watch sometimes extending to several days. The mammals , which one volunteer calls cute, spend a third of their lives on beaches, rocks or coral fast asleep and spend the rest of the time in the ocean Once a year they come to beaches to molt, shedding their furry skin for a new layer growing underneath.
Before the government shutdown, NOAA officials made special arrangements to allow volunteers to do the job alone. The 400 to 600 pound seals, found nowhere else in the world outside the Hawaii archipelago, have been increasing in numbers since the program started. The first volunteer to arrive on Kaanapali Beach this morning noted that “it is a privilege to be a part of the program” as she politely asked visitors to stand back. Busy with other chores she was soon relieved by a retired couple from who drove 20 miles to take up a four-hour shift.
The volunteers strive to protect every seal that arrives on a beach. WATCH FOR CONTINUING COVERAGE BY KAANAPALI CONDO NEWS COM WHICH REPORTS ON DAILY HAPPENINGS ON KAANAPALI BEACH AND JOIN NEARLY 200 PEOPLE WHO AE FOLLOWERS.
Filed under: 365 Days on Ka'anapali Tagged: | Alii, endangered species, Government shutdown, Hawaii, Hawaiian monk seal, Kaanapali, Kaanapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui, Monachus, National Oceanic, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Voices of Maui