Newlyweds ‘deeply sorry’ for viral Hawaiian monk seal incident

·2 min read

A Louisiana couple has apologized after video footage showing the woman touching an endangered monk seal in Hawaii went viral, inspiring harsh criticism and death threats.

In the footage, the woman, identified as Lakyn, is shown touching the monk seal on a remote Kauai beach. The seal snaps, causing Lakyn to run to safety. (She has since made her TikTok account private, but the video is featured on the Hawaii Viral Content Instagram page.)

Hawaiian monk seals are endangered and the mammals, revered in Hawaiian culture, respond poorly to stress. Tourists and residents are supposed to stay at least 150 feet from monk seals at all times. Harassing them can result in felony charges.

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According to the Star-Advertiser, the couple was honeymooning after being married in June and not aware of rules pertaining to marine mammals. The husband, named Stephen, asked that Lakyn’s last name be withheld because of the threats she received after posting her video.

“We’re deeply sorry,” Stephen said. “We love Hawaii and the culture. We didn’t mean to offend anyone. We respect the ­culture.”

Stephen added: “We didn’t didn’t know anything but I know that’s no excuse. We’re animal lovers. We weren’t trying to cause any harm or threaten or scare any animals. We’re deeply sorry. We’ll learn from this mistake.”

The incident remains under investigation by NOAA Fisheries, but the couple apparently has agreed to pay a substantial fine.

According to NOAA, the Hawaiian monk seal population numbers about 1,400 animals, with 1,100 spread throughout the sparsely populated Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and 300 around the main islands.

The species experienced a sharp decline after the 1950s and, despite some recent encouraging signs, a full recovery “is a long way off.”

–Monk seal image is generic