Though many people are adamantly against it, ocean pollution is real and it poses a great risk to marine life and the ecosystem as a whole.

Meet Manu’iwa, an endangered Hawaiian monk seal. She made headlines when she was born in the wild on the Big Island of Hawaii last February. She is now just one of three seals there. The total population of her species consists of only around 1,400 individuals.

Manu’iwa’s progress has been closely monitored by the Marine Mammal Center since her birth, and people have been respectful of conservationists urging them to keep away from her. Overall, the seal pup seems to be thriving. But sadly, Manu’iwa was recently pictured with an object that threatened her life instantaneously.

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 caught the shocking scene on camera.

Manu’iwa had no idea of the dangers of the knife, which had apparently been discarded by a neglectful person.

It was feared that Manu’iwa would end up swallowing the blade, but thankfully, it did not come to that. Manu’iwa let go of it eventually, and the knife was later retrieved.

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

Though the seal was able to avoid potential tragedy, this incident clearly shows how pollution and human debris can kill the environment and the creatures in it.

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