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Charter school students name Kaiwi’s monk seal pup Pa‘aki

Nina Wu
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.

COURTESY NOAA FISHERIES
                                Hawaiian monk seal Kaiwi and her newborn pup hang out at Kaimana Beach.
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COURTESY NOAA FISHERIES

Hawaiian monk seal Kaiwi and her newborn pup hang out at Kaimana Beach.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.
3/3
Swipe or click to see more

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.
COURTESY NOAA FISHERIES
                                Hawaiian monk seal Kaiwi and her newborn pup hang out at Kaimana Beach.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Newly named Hawaiian monk seal pup Pa‘aki frolics on the beach and in the shorebreak with mother Kaiwi in Waikiki today.

Kaiwi’s newest monk seal pup born this month at Kaimana Beach has been named Pa‘aki, according to Hawaii Marine Animal Response.

Kaiwi, or RK96, gave birth to the pup, which community members reported the morning of May 1 at the popular beach. Officials had referred to the pup as PO5, the fifth pup born on Oahu.

Seventh-graders at Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School selected the name Pa‘aki (pronounced “pa ah key”) to match the pup’s characteristics, said HMAR, the nonprofit arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Students said the beginning of the name, “Pa‘a” signifies it is bound to its mother, Kaiwi, as the pup consistently stays close to her. Pa‘a also stands for stubbornness, which reflects the pup’s playful yet mischievous behavior on the beach and in the water.

The class said the second part of the name “‘aki” refers to the action of nipping or snapping back, a behavior observed in monk seals when they perceive danger. It is also a tribute to Anakala Larry Akiyama, known to many as “Uncle Aki,” who served as an original beach boy and spent many years safeguarding the seals at Kaimana Beach.

HMAR has worked with students over the years to name monk seal pups, both as an opportunity for them to learn more about the endangered species as well as to play a role in giving special meaning to the pups born near them.

>> PHOTOS: Meet Kaiwi’s pup

“We also know that others in the community may have their own names for monk seals which is a positive thing for the preservation of this endemic and important species, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world,” said HMAR in a social media post.

Pa‘aki is Kaiwi’s sixth pup, and the third pup she has given birth to at Kaimana Beach. She gave birth to earlier pups along the Kaiwi shoreline in East Honolulu, where she got her nickname.

Halau Ku Mana students also named Kaiwi’s male pup Loli‘i, born in 2021 at Kaimana Beach. Waikiki Elementary students named her female pup Pualani in 2023.

Mom and pup are expected to nurse and bond at Kaimana Beach for five to seven weeks. During that time, much of the beach has been cordoned off to protect the endangered seals as well as the public.

NOAA says it is critical that mom and pup not be disturbed during this critical nursing period, and recommends that the public keep a distance of at least 150 feet from the pair or choose another nearby beach in Waikiki.

Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered seal species in the world, according to NOAA, with only about 1,600 remaining in the wild, so each pup represents hope for the species’ recovery.

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