A 60-year-old woman was injured after she was attacked by a local seal called Rocky in a traumatic ordeal at a busy Hawaiian tourist beach.
The swimmer was in the water at a Waikiki beach on Sunday morning when she came face to face with the endangered Hawaiian monk seal who’d given birth two weeks earlier.
Witnesses say the protective mother lashed out at the woman after losing sight of her new pup.
In the brutal attack, caught on camera by horrified onlookers, the seal can be seen charging at the nearest swimmer about 45 meters off Kaimana beach.
As the woman attempts to defend herself she slips under the water, while witnesses can be heard yelling at her to “get out of the way”.
Fighting to reach the shore, the 60-year-old is repeatedly struck by the nursing seal until a kayaker moves in between the two.
Using the boat as a shield, the woman finally reaches the sand where she collapses before being carried off by two men.
In a statement, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said the woman, a primary school teacher from California, suffered lacerations to her face, back and an arm.
Dangerous warning to tourists
The shoreline where the seals live in Waikiki is roped off and beach-goers are warned of the dangers of getting too close to the nursing mother.
The Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) said it’s been watching the pair since the birth two weeks ago, and had told people to stay away.
“We ask people to please follow the guidance and instructions provided by the HMAR, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ocean Safety or other authorized parties on the beach,” the Hawaii Marine Animal Response said in a statement,
It is against the law to touch, harass, injure or kill monk seals, with less than 1,600 remaining in the wild, while people are told to stay at least 46 meters away from a mother seal and pup.
“Mother seals can move incredibly fast in the water,” NOAA Fisheries said, “and we urge people to consider using alternate areas for water activities when mothers with pups are in the area.”
They anticipate these seals will in remain the area for about a month.