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If your clients saw a monk seal on the beach, would they know
what to do?
“Ninety percent of the time, people keep a safe distance from
the animals,” said Tim Robinson, projects chairman for the Kauai
Monk Seal Watch (KMSW) program. “We’re here because of the other 10
Robinson recently partnered with Sheraton Kauai Resort to teach
visitors about monk seals. For 45 minutes, KMSW volunteers show
photos and share information about the endangered species.
“We want guests to enjoy seeing such a wonderful species, but at
the same time, they must respect the animals,” Robinson said. “We
need to balance the visitors’ needs with those of the animals.”
With 1,300 Hawaiian monk seals spread across the islands, Kauai
plays home to about 25. Seals often sun themselves on Poipu Beach
near Sheraton Kauai.
“They need time on the beach to rest,” said Robinson. “When we
upset their sleep, we’re threatening their lives.”
Sheraton Kauai is promoting the new monk seal education program
to its guests and Poipu visitors.
“Sheraton is a great partner,” he said. “As soon as a seal hauls
up on the beach, the staff puts up signs and ropes around it and
calls me. We can’t keep the seals here without the tourism
Robinson got involved in Kauai monk seal protection in 2000,
during a birth on the beach in Poipu. KMSW grew out of that
“I wanted to do a program in the schools,” he said. “For the
past five years, we have been teaching fourth-graders about monk
seals. If we can reach one grade level per year, over 12 years we
will have educated an entire generation.”
By expanding into the visitor industry, Robinson hopes to take
his message to an even higher level.
“Even if just one guest shows up at a program, that’s one more
person enlightened,” he said.