Birth of monk seal prompts early closure of beach park


North Kohala’s Keokea Beach Park is being closed at 7:30 p.m. nightly to protect an endangered Hawaiian monk seal and its mother.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, asked Hawaii County’s Department of Parks and Recreation to implement the early closure after the new pup was born at the park, the county said in a news release.

Both NOAA and the Department of Parks and Recreation ask the public to keep their distance from the Hawaiian monk seals, which are protected under both federal and state laws. Anyone who intentionally harasses, harms or kills a Hawaiian monk seal could be fined up to $50,000 and ordered to serve a five-year prison sentence.

New permits for use of Keokea Beach Park’s pavilions will list a 7 p.m. closing time to give patrons enough time to vacate. The park will continue to be closed at 7:30 p.m. until further notice, the county said.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the shortened hours may cause and thanks park users and the general public for understanding the need to protect one of Hawaii’s most unique and loved animals.

 

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