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Monk seal pup at Kaimana Beach is named by students at Halau Ku Mana

Nina Wu
                                A Hawaiian monk seal pup and its mother at Kaimana Beach in Waikiki.
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A Hawaiian monk seal pup and its mother at Kaimana Beach in Waikiki.

The Hawaiian monk seal pup born at Kaiwi at Kaimana Beach on April 26 now has a Hawaiian name — Loli‘i.

Hawaii Marine Animal Response, a nonprofit, invited students from a Hawaiian immersion school to give the pup, until recently known as P02, to name the male seal pup.

Halau Ku Mana, a Hawaiian immersion school in Makiki, decided to name him Loli‘i, which means relaxed, at ease, without worry, carefree or to lie at ease.

“The students at Halau Ku Mana told us that this name was gifted because Loli’i is ‘very active, curious and loves to explore with his mom’,” said HMAR in a Facebook post today. “The name also reflects the meaning of where he was born, as per the keiki ‘Kaimana Beach, aka Sans Souci Beach (French for ‘without worries’). Being only the second seal to be born at Kaimana Beach, he lives up to the name.”

“We are honored that the students of Halau Ku Mana took part in the naming of the newest member of the Oahu Hawaiian monk seal ohana,” HMAR continued. “Mahalo nui loa!”

Kaiwi and Loli‘i continue to bond and nurse at Kaimana beach, with the pup growing larger every day. Monk seal moms generally take six to eight weeks to fatten up their pups before weaning them, and making a departure back out to sea.

Wildlife officials continue to remind the public to maintain a safe distance from mom and pup, and to remain behind perimeters and refrain from flash or drone photography so as not to disturb the pair.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources also recommends that beachgoers choose another beach for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing while the monk seal mom and pup are at Kaimana Beach. Although they appear docile on land, monk seal moms are very protective and move quickly in the water.

“Monk seals are docile on land, but don’t let that fool you,” said David Schofield, NOAA Fisheries Regional Marine Mammal Response Coordinator, in a news release. “In the ocean they are fast and strong, and in the case of a mother in the process of weaning a pup, she is very protective … anyone who is considered a threat could be attacked and seriously hurt.”

In December 2009, a 28-year-old woman visiting from Washington state suffered from a fractured skull and broken bones in her hand following an attack by a monk seal mom when she went swimming near the Poipu area of Kauai.

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species protected under state and federal laws, and harassing one can result in imprisonment and fines. To report monk seal sightings or marine mammals in distress, call NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840.

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