A fourth monk seal found dead in the islands in less than three months has state and federal officials appealing for the public's help to stop the killings.
A fisherman reported the latest Hawaiian monk seal found dead two days ago in Pilaa on the Northeast coast of Kauai.
It was a juvenile male, who state officials said had suspicious, visible wounds to his head.
The injuries are similar to three monk seals found dead on Molokai's westside in recent weeks.
"We hope to stop this trend and the only we can do this is to have people understand that we need to get along and there's no reason for anyone to go out and kill a monk seal," said state land director William Aila.
The string of seal deaths has longtime community activist Walter Ritte speaking out.
"They're dying because their skulls are being smashed. So for me, that is alarming. That's setting a dangerous trend. If we don't stop it, we are going to be the cause of the death of these seals," said Ritte.
It's estimated there are about 1,100 monk seals left in existence in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and declining at a rate of about 4% a year.
But their numbers are coming back in the main Hawaiian islands, where there is more food and less competition with other seals.
Ritte believes those behind the recent deaths are young fishermen or hunters who may be misinformed about the seals.
"People are killing the seals. The government can't say it because they need proof. I'm not the government, I'm from the grassroots and I know they're killing the seals," said Ritte.
Hawaii state law makes it a felony to harm or kill monk seals. Those found guilty face up to $50,000 in fines and five years in prison.
Anyone with information about the deaths or are witness to abuse or harassment of Hawaiian monk seals is asked to call NOAA at 800-853-1964 or DLNR at (808) 873-3990.