A man who posted a viral video of someone slapping an endangered seal on it's behind has been strongly criticised for filming such a moment.
Eric Mustevoy who used to be a user on TikTok until he removed his account posted a video on the app from a scene on a beach in West Oahu, Hawaii, in which an unidentified man hits an unsuspecting monk seal from behind, briefly angering and distressing the creature.
According to Daily Dot, the original video, which featured a sample of the song 'Smack That' by Akon, did not go viral but then started to pick up more interest once it was shared on Instagram by the popular account @hungyhungryhawaiian where it has been seen more than 150,000 times.
Speaking to the Hawaiian local news website Maui Now, Musetevoy confessed that the man in this video is not him but apologised for posting the video regardless.
That was not me that did that. I just witnessed some guy doing it and captured it on camera. I was just recording the video and I noticed some people taking pics with it and this guy just ran and did it.
I would never do that in the first place. And I wouldnʻt be stupid to post it if I did it. Because I know itʻs illegal. But I was wrong of posting it.
In addition, the person tagged in the video, Alex Tsvor, despite being a friend of Mustevoy's had nothing to do with the video and told Maui Now that "I never been to Hawaii, and I enjoy and respect nature."
As already mentioned the video has reportedly been criticised for promoting the abuse of the animal, which are illegal to disturb or harm in federal and state law, with anyone caught committing a violation of these rules facing a potential fine $50,000 and a 12-month prison sentence.
The seals are also said to be powerful animals that can bite if they feel under threat hence people being warned to keep a safe distance from them.
The NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Regional Office is quoted as saying.
We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. However, we want to remind the public that Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, and we recommend everyone follow our viewing guidelines for monk seals and other marine wildlife.
These guidelines have been developed to maximize human safety, seal safety, and legal compliance. To report suspected monk seal protection violations or to provide information that may be relevant to an ongoing investigation, please call the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement hotline at: (800) 853-1964.
HT Maui Now