Oahu is thrilled to welcome a brand new Hawaiian Monk Seal pup born in May on Kaimana
Beach, Waikiki! Students at the Hālau Kū Māna local high school chose the name Lōliʻi for the pup, meaning carefree and relaxed. Lōliʻi’s mother Kaiwa and her grandmother, Rocky have visited Kaimana beach in the past to birth pups and molt their fur. Waikiki is one of Oahu’s most popular tourist destinations so strict measures were put in place to ensure Kaiwa and Lōliʻi as little disturbance as possible. Fortunate visitors and residents staying in nearby condos enjoyed an exclusive front row seat to little Lōliʻi’s first few weeks of life unfolding right outside their windows!
Akima Kai, Waimea Blue’s resident photographer, is deeply passionate about Hawaiian wildlife and did everything she could to photograph this amazing maternal bond while still respecting the restrictions put in place to protect the seals. Equipped with telephoto lenses, patience, and a steady hand - Akima captured a tender moment between Kaiwa and Lōliʻi just ten days into his life. One of Akima’s favourite portraits is of a Hawaiian Monk Seal she spotted on her way to Kaena Point on Oahu’s North Shore. She pulled over to photograph this plump, happy blob relaxing on the beach. Akima could not resist naming this print: the ‘Melting Marshmallow’ and this cutie is our spirit animal! You can get your copy of these photographs along with other beautiful prints by Akima Kai at the online store: www.waimeablue.com or visit us at Waimea Blue Art Gallery on the North Shore of Oahu!
Akima followed little Lōliʻi’s journey through his early life from a safe distance. Hawaiian
Monk Seals nurse for around six to seven weeks before leaving their pups to fend for themselves.
During this time, Kaiwa and Lōliʻi were inseparable. Like most pups, Lōliʻi showed that he was
naturally inquisitive, wandering as far as he could with Kaiwa in tow. Kaiwa followed Lōliʻi into
the water where she would teach him how to swim and fish. These are important skills for him as he will spend most of his adult life in open water. Adult Hawaiian Monk Seals have an incredible lung capacity and have been recorded diving to depths of 1800 feet for up to twenty minutes at a time, allowing them to forage for food on the seafloor. The traditional Hawaiian name for the Monk Seal is ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua” or "dog that runs in rough water". Hawaiian Monk Seal pups like Lōliʻi are important for the survival of their species as a whole. It is estimated that there are only 1400 Hawaiian Monk Seals left in the wild, making them about as endangered as the Giant Panda. One of only two indigenous species of mammals on the Hawaiian Islands, these enigmatic creatures have been around for over four million years! In the past, Hawaiian Monk Seals were found mainly in the Northern Hawaiian Islands but recently their populations have grown and become more prominent in the Main Hawaiian Islands.
This is fantastic news for the seals but we must respect the laws that are in place to help protect this endangered species. This can be as easy as picking up trash or simply allowing the seals their space. It is important to maintain a safe distance of at least 150 feet between a mother seal and her pup.
We wish Lōliʻi and his family many happy returns to Oahu. There is no telling where he will be
spotted next but he has plenty of adoring fans on the island looking out for him!