A Hawaiian monk seal with a propensity for swimming, playing and otherwise interacting with people on the Big Island — getting a lot of food handouts in the process — will be relocated to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, federal officials said.
The juvenile female seal known as R042 was relocated four times, and now is in a pen at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.
"Each time, she found her way back to populated areas where she could pursue interacting with humans," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service said in a release.
The seal, born in late spring of 2007, now is 300-plus pounds and the interaction with humans poses a possible threat to safety, NOAA said.
"Seals that depend on humans for food and safety lose their natural ability to forage and fend for themselves, making them dependent on humans to survive for the rest of their lives," the agency said.
NOAA said the relocation decision was not made lightly, given that it is removing a female "with reproductive potential from a rich and relatively stable environment" in the main Hawaiian islands.
The Coast Guard will transport the seal to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.