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Waikīkī 4th graders name Kaimana Beach monk seal pup 'Koalani'

Emily Greene
Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response
4th graders from Waikīkī Elementary School take a field trip to Kaimana Beach Hotel to see the pup in person for the announcement of his name.

Fourth grade students from Waikīkī Elementary School participated in a naming ceremony for a one-month-old endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

The students chose the name Koalani, meaning heavenly warrior.

Each class decided on a name, and then each student voted for the winner. The name was announced to the students as they watched Koalani rest on the sand at Kaimana Beach.

Emily Greene
Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response
Koalani (PO8) on Kaimana Beach.

A team of cultural practitioners from Molokaʻi taught the students a name weaving exercise, or haku inoa, to name the monk seal.

"The students get information about the seals. So it takes into account genealogy, place, moonphase and characteristics — so like body features and personality. And then they take all of those things that they've learned about the pup and they find words and qualities and characteristics that they think are most important," said Emily Greene, Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response’s education and engagement program manager.

The students chose the word koa meaning strong and brave to represent the pup's strength and sense of adventure, and lani meaning heaven, sky and royalty.

"And then they take those words that they think are most important and kind of weave them together to create something really unique and special that tells a story about him and who he is," Greene said.

Koalani was born at Kaimana Beach on July 9. He is the 14th pup of the monk seal Rocky — who was the first monk seal to give birth in Waikīkī in 2017.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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