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Knife-Wielding Seal Pup Sends A Sad And Shocking Message

"It’s a reminder to all of us to properly dispose of our trash."

There is no shortage of images depicting the threats ocean pollution poses to marine life. But while the problem can feel too immense to grasp, and its victims too easy to overlook, the imperiled animal in this case isn't just anyone.

She's among the last of her kind on the planet.

This is Manu'iwa, an endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Her birth in the wild on the Big Island of Hawaii last February made headlines, and for good reason — she's now just one of three seals in existence there. (Elsewhere, her species' population is composed of only about 1,400 individuals.)

The seal pup's progress has been closely monitored by the Marine Mammal Center since her happy arrival, and people have been respectful of conservationists' urging them to keep their distance from her. Manu'iwa seemed to be thriving, having recently weaned from her mother.

But recently, Manu'iwa found something that threatened her life in an instant.

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

"Last Sunday the people observing the seal spotted it playing with a bright orange object in its mouth," Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) wrote online. "As they watched the seal dive beneath near-shore rocks and come back up, they realized Manu'iwa was holding a knife in [her] mouth by its handle."

A DLNR officer captured the shocking scene on video.

Manu'iwa was oblivious to the dangers of the object she'd found — an object apparently left behind or discarded by some neglectful person.

It was feared that the playful seal pup might swallow the blade, but fortunately she did not. Eventually, Manu‘iwa dropped it, and the knife was later retrieved.

Tragedy was avoided this time, but the message is clear: pollution and human debris can kill.

"It’s a reminder to all of us to properly dispose of our trash," the DLNR officer said.

To help protect and support animals like Manu‘iwa, consider making a donation to the Marine Mammal Center