1:11 PM PDT, July 16, 2021
A Louisiana couple on their Hawaiian honeymoon is facing backlash and a fine after a TikTok video went viral that shows one of the newlyweds touching a monk seal on a beach in Kauai, according to reports.
The newlyweds, identified only as Stephen and Lakyn, were on their honeymoon when Stephen filmed his wife, Lakyn, touching the Hawaiian monk seal, the Associated Press reported.
The video shows that as the woman leans in to pet the seal, which is endangered, the seal quickly snaps at her, chasing the woman away.
The video, which was taken in June, has been viewed more than 72,000 times and sparked outrage and an undisclosed fine from the NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement, People reported.
The couple got married in Maui and were on their honeymoon in Kauai. They said they were unaware of the laws and said it was the first time they had seen a Hawaiian monk seal, a report said.
Since their video went viral, the husband told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser they have gotten death threats and his wife had to change her TikTok account to a private setting.
“We’re deeply sorry,” Stephen said. “We love Hawaii and the culture. We didn’t mean to offend anyone. We respect the culture.”
There are approximately 1,400 monk seals living in the Hawaiian islands, according to the Hawaiian news outlet.
Under state and federal laws it is illegal to touch or harass a Hawaiian monk seal. Those who are convicted of doing so could face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $50,000, the AP reported.