A TOURIST who posted an image onto Instagram while bragging about what he got up to on his Hawaii holiday soon ended up regretting it.
The man ended up being fined $US1500 ($A2000) after authorities used his social media accounts to track down his home address, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Alabama man, in the video posted on Instagram with the hashtag #monkseals, walked up to a sleeping monk seal on Poipu Beach at night and stroked it with his hand, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The startled seal quickly turned towards him, and he ran away. The man then panned his camera to a sign from the NOAA urging beachgoers to maintain a safe distance from wildlife.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement was able to locate the tourist and fined him for touching the endangered Hawaiian monk seal as well as harassing a sea turtle on Kauai. He has agreed to pay the fine.
“Violations are usually the result of things like tourists wanting to get a good, close picture with a seal or a thrillseeker trying to get a rush,” Adam Kurtz, NOAA Fisheries wildlife management co-ordinator, said.
“But it’s really frustrating when you see people harass these animals.”
Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species. They are protected by both state and federal laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The man could have been injured because Hawaiian monk seals are wild animals that can act unpredictably, Mr Kurtz said. The seal could have lunged at the man instead of simply turning towards him.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials, while investigating the man’s Instagram account, also found a video of him aggressively pursuing a sea turtle while snorkelling at Poipu.
All species of sea turtles in US waters are listed as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to NOAA.