Anticipating a busy holiday weekend as shelter-in-place restrictions lift, officials are reminding the public to stay at least 150 feet away from endangered monk seals.

Their specific concern Thursday was a baby monk seal nicknamed Nohea. The female pup was born on April 4 and has been spotted in the water and on beaches along the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline on Oahu.

Nohea the monk seal is 47 days old, and has been spotted near the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. Courtesy: Hawaii Marine Animal Response

“We expect that there will probably be a lot of vehicle traffic and people on the beach this weekend,” said Angela Amlin, the Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator with NOAA Fisheries.

The pup has already had close encounters with humans and unleashed dogs, according to Amlin.

“Dogs and seals can seriously injure each other and transmit diseases to each other,” she said.

“Recently weaned seals are highly impressionable and this is a very critical stage in their lives,” she said, noting that if the seal gets used to human interaction it could be injured — accidentally or intentionally.

If Nohea comes onshore during the day, volunteers and officials will set up cones and police will be conducting surveillance at night, said Jon Gelman, president of Hawaii Marine Animal Response.

“Driving on the beach in this area is not allowed,” he said.

There are only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals in the world. Populations have increased by about 2% annually in recent years, but they still remain one of the most endangered seals worldwide.

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