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It was sad—every bit of it, and in so many freakish ways.
June 13, 2013 5:47 PM   Subscribe

The most recent wave of Hawaiian-monk-seal murders began on the island of Molokai in November 2011. An 8-year-old male seal was found slain on a secluded beach. A month later, the body of a female, not yet 2 years old, turned up in the same area. Then, in early January, a third victim was found on Kauai. The government tries to keep the details of such killings secret, though it is known that some monk seals have been beaten to death and some have been shot. Who Would Kill a Monk Seal? [New York Times Magazine]
posted by DaDaDaDave (32 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Answer: Assholes.
posted by Windopaene at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why, FFS?!
posted by magstheaxe at 6:16 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because people are assholes. Not everyone all the time, but enough people enough of the time.
posted by rtha at 6:18 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Elton John has already confessed
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:19 PM on June 13, 2013


anyway, the article answers it. even when it comes to envrionmental protection, it's Bush's fault:

There has been frustration with the federal government among fishermen and other “ocean users” in Hawaii since at least 2006, when President George W. Bush turned the water around the Leewards into the Papa­hanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, barring a small number of fishermen who had permits to work there from 140,000 square miles of the Pacific, an area larger than all of America’s national parks combined. That skepticism is compounded for native Hawaiians. After all, they now walk beaches that their families have used for centuries and find tracts of sand literally roped off by NOAA monk-seal responders — men and women who, on Kauai, are almost exclusively white, wealthy retirees from the mainland. (It’s these haole, as Hawaiians call white outsiders, who have the luxury of standing watch over a sleeping monk seal all day.) Even the idea that a wild animal needs such coddling strikes some locals as absurd. “The seal needs to rest!” one man, Kekane Pa, told me sarcastically. “The seal needs to rest because it’s been swimming in the water.”

posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:22 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by limeonaire at 6:37 PM on June 13, 2013


I got to see a monk seal pretty up close and personal in Hawaii when I took a trip there a few years back. I was in that place for two weeks and the seal was lazing about for 4-5 days during my time there.

It was fun and weird having this thing outside your window and being able to watch it go into the surf and come back out to sleep, but there was this really weird altercation on the beach in the middle of it. I think we were making lunch one day in the kitchen of the rental house and we heard a ruckus out front. Turned out some guy was yelling and trying to kick the seal while a couple dudes were trying to beat the guy up for it. The guy doing the kicking seemed pretty nuts, like a homeless person with some unmedicated mental issues, and eventually they got the guy to get away from the seal and get off the beach, but it was really odd. I don't think that guy is behind these killings, but these super cute amazing creatures do get weird reactions from people sometimes I guess.
posted by mathowie at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seven dolphins died suspiciously on the Gulf Coast last year;

My wife works for a conservancy and research group on the north Gulf. There have been dolphins found with rifle bullets in them, dead on the beach. They can't really tell if the dolphins were shot before or after they died - the carcasses are usually too far gone. The best word I can think of to describe someone who would shoot a dolphin is "depraved."

The article brings up a good point: how "wilderness" and "wildness" are constructs of human society - the "state of Nature" is essentially unknowable to humanity, because in order to have a true one you'd need to take us out entirely (though, are humans not part of Nature? Termites build, cheetahs hunt, and whales live in complex social groups...) The main question, as I understand it, it: is reintroduction the same as invasion? To the Hawai'ians, the monk seals are a foreign species, unfamiliar. To the scientists, the monk seals are simply regaining their original range.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:35 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
posted by KokuRyu at 7:40 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a really interesting article. Thank you for posting.
posted by feckless at 7:46 PM on June 13, 2013


Answer: Assholes.

More like:

Answer: It's complicated.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:47 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not actually complicated.
posted by Windopaene at 7:56 PM on June 13, 2013


Speaking as a Canadian, I think it was Canadians. I mean, have you seen us? We club baby seals while the world looks on in horror. Our former Governor-General once ate a raw seal heart in solidarity with the club wielders. If you're a seal and you see us coming, waddle in the other direction.
posted by dry white toast at 8:00 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it were Canadians, it would be a sustainable harvest of a maintained population by an aboriginal or local group that'd been doing it for ages.

This is something else.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:21 PM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


A native population putting their own interests over the interests of white tourists and the animals they fetishize over the people who live there?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:24 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


They are adorable, but also a little gross: the Zach Galifianakises of marine mammals.
I thought this was unnecessary and mean.
posted by variella at 8:36 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, as a Canadian I support the seal hunt, especially for Inuit and First Nations folks who rely on the fur trade for their income and to preserve cultural traditions. Even the East Coast seal hunt, although I don't buy the idea that it's all in the name of managing the cod fishery.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:37 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here on the west coast nearly every fishing boat used to carry a rifle or two, the main purpose of which was to shoot seals. Seals competed with us for the salmon and herring and so deserved to be shot on sight. While there are now many fewer commercial salmon and herring boats on the the west coast (largely because there are many fewer fish), that attitude sadly persists among many sports fishermen.
Unquestioningly preserving cultural traditions in the face of environmental realities seems to me to do a disservice to both the cultures and the environments in peril.
posted by islander at 10:21 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


They are adorable, but also a little gross: the Zach Galifianakises of marine mammals.
I thought this was unnecessary and mean.
Also inaccurate. I'm pretty sure walruses are the Zach Galifianakises of marine mammals. So bristly and friendly looking.

Humor aside; it's horrible that these seals (and any other endangered species) would be killed not out of necessity or even sport, but out of anger or for a thrill.
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:32 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cultures that profess a reverence for our fellow planetary inhabitants do however seem preferable to the "...dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” folks.
posted by islander at 10:34 PM on June 13, 2013


From my area: Turtle dead after severely beaten on golf course; reward offered With a golf club! Sick, sick, sick.

I just watched Star Trek IV -- in retrospect I'm really impressed with its forward-thinking animal rights message, with lines like "They like you very much, but they are not the hell your whales." Not to mention Spock simply feeling they need the whales' consent for transport to the 23rd century. When you consider the last quarter century of mainstreaming of e.g. Peter Singer, it's really something to see.
posted by dhartung at 11:04 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


In other news: Sea Lion Pup-date Brings Good News: Strandings Are Declining
posted by homunculus at 11:21 PM on June 13, 2013


Sea lion pup jumps into boat, cuddles with driver
posted by homunculus at 11:24 PM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seals are not human, therefore 'murder' is the wrong word. Apart from that, those responsible should be strung up by their bollocks.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:27 AM on June 14, 2013


When you consider the last quarter century of mainstreaming of e.g. Peter Singer, it's really something to see.

“All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.” That Peter Singer?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:57 AM on June 14, 2013


Seals are not human, therefore 'murder' is the wrong word.

The idea of personhood for animals could change that. A declaration of rights for cetaceans already exists, but maybe it's a bit too pro-life for liberals to ever embrace.
posted by three blind mice at 6:22 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect that we will eventually discover that the killings are the result of a cunning plan by the local octopus community. If the plan succeeds, divers are next.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:32 AM on June 14, 2013


There's a whole lot of history and politics in the background of this issue - it's not only about deranged people clubbing seals.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:55 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indigenous/First Nations folks don't always share the same values as Western/liberal/dominant culture eco-warriors.

For example, in my neck of the woods, Clayoquot Sound was the scene of huge battlers between environmental crusaders and the government/industry. They wanted to protect some of the last old growth watersheds anywhere on Vancouver Island (the largest island on the west coast of North America). From one point of view, the old growth forests have intrinsic value, and also preserve the last remaining bits of true biodiversity on the Island.

Much of the area was preserved, with some set aside for local First Nations (aka "Native Americans" or "Indians") in the area. It's a remote region, with little to no economic development opportunities aside from resource extraction.

So the local First Nation decided to log it, much to the horror of their former allies, the environmental crusaders.

There's also the same disconnect in values between the Makah Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, just south of Clayoquot.

The Makah and other folks who have lived in the region for about 20,000 years, like to hunt whales. It's part of their culture.

But I've heard numerous environmental types say that preserving whales (Grey whales are no longer endangered) is more important than preserving culture.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on June 14, 2013


the man of twists and turns: They can't really tell if the dolphins were shot before or after they died - the carcasses are usually too far gone. The best word I can think of to describe someone who would shoot a dolphin is "depraved."
If the dolphins were shot to put them out of their suffering when they couldn't be saved, the best word I can think of is "merciful."

"Depraved" certainly fits any asshole who shoots a healthy dolphin, but I'm just pointing out - euthanism of those who are dying painfully is also a possibility.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:00 AM on June 16, 2013


If the dolphins were shot to put them out of their suffering when they couldn't be saved, the best word I can think of is "merciful."
The general public is not able to tell if they can be saved or not. The research/rescue teams can, and do not euthanize via gunshot. Nobody calls and says "I just shot a dolphin because I thought it was the best thing to do."

Let's upgrade from "depraved" to "incredibly fucking stupid."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:14 AM on June 16, 2013


Happiness-Inducing Photos of Australian Fur Seals
posted by homunculus at 3:11 PM on June 27, 2013


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