Louisiana Couple Will Pay a Fine After Touching an Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal on Vacation

When you’re on vacation, you might want to do all of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that come your way. After all, you might not find yourself in that place ever again, so you have to take advantage.

The only thing is, you probably don’t want to do anything that’s going to get you intro trouble. You know, like touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

A couple from Louisiana were on their honeymoon in Kauai and decided to do just that. The woman, Lakyn, posted a video to her now-private TikTok account with her husband Stephen petting the monk seal on the beach. Once she touches it, the seal raises its head and snaps at her. She then runs away screaming.

The people of Hawaii were completely outraged when they saw the video. In fact, Stephen and Lakyn’s last names aren’t published because they were receiving death threats for what they did.

The couple has since deeply apologized for what they’ve done.


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“We sincerely apologize if we offended any locals. The last thing we want to do is disrespect anyone or anybody’s culture or lifestyle. That’s something we’re really, really sorry about,” Stephen said, who also added that NOAA authorities have assessed an undisclosed fine for them to pay.

“We’re animal lovers. We weren’t trying to cause any harm or threaten or scare any animals,” Stephen said. “We’re deeply sorry. We’ll learn from this mistake.”

Harassing or even simply touching a Hawaiian monk seal is considered a Class C felony by state and federal laws. Any violator of this rule could face up to five years in prison and have to pay a $50,000 fine.

However, the couple wasn’t from the area and was unaware of this law.

“We didn’t see no signs,” Stephen said. “We didn’t know anything but I know that’s no excuse.”

Protected by the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, there are only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals, with approximately 1,100 in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and 300 in the main Hawaiian Islands .You can learn more about marine wildlife viewing guidelines here.

Lesson learned: If you spot a Hawaiian monk seal, you can admire it from 50 feet away—any closer and you’ve got bigger fish to fry!

Have you ever heard of a Hawaiian monk seal before, or were aware that it was endangered? What would you have done if you were this couple after you realized the damage had already been done?