Photo Courtesy of Lesley Macphearson
Ua’Malie (RT10/11) “Calm Rain”
June 29, 2010 – May 17, 2018
Nine years ago on a lightly misting rainy morning, a newly trained volunteer living at Turtle Bay was making her daily check of the beach areas surrounding the resort. Low and behold she came upon a Momma seal (R5AY-Honey Girl) and a brand new pup. A local lady said she should be named calm rain to match the day of her birth. That name stuck and so it was to be, Ua’Malie.
This young pup would begin a trend that is used to this day, by most response teams, to protect young seal pups and weaners. The volunteer effort that had begun two years prior with Hoku and Honey Girl, would grow to huge proportions with Ua’Malie’s arrival.
A grass roots movement that began with Chester on January 1, 2008 and would become the leading group, for response and education, for the island of Oahu with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team of Oahu.
I was going through the birth journal that we kept from that event in anticipation of writing this article. The thing that stood out most in reminiscing about Ua’Malie was her, of course, but the incredible people who came to the beach, literally, to help look after her from her first day on the Earth. Some, like Donna Festa gave a huge sacrifice and actually broke her foot. Barbara Allen came out on her walker, Candy Greene brought her grandson, who loves the seals. Karen Turner, who discovered the pup and lives at Turtle Bay, was an invaluable volunteer watching after the newborn. Dera Look, who was always an inspiration and supporter for all the volunteers, will always be missed now that she’s a Mommy and living in other parts.
Ua’Malie’s new life was relatively uneventful up until she really started feeling more confident. And then the race was on between this very feisty youngster and her very experienced Mother. She would find a LOT of fish hooks and some just had to stay where they pierced because taking out a fish hook with a momma seal looking on doesn’t happen. She did seem pretty good at getting rid of them. On day 55, yes 55, we finally had a weaner. Did I mention that Honey Girl is one of the longest nursing Mother seals we’ve ever known?
On August 25, 2010 Ua’Malie became an official tagged female seal T10/11. The response volunteers and NOAA team were there to see about the fish hooks and the tagging. Ua’Malie let it be known (by biting one of the NWHI guys with experience) she was not fond of the attention or the people. She was xrayed for stomach hooks and the one we thought was on her eye turned out to be sea cucumber gook. Just as well she was not enjoying the attention. Ua’Malie after being woken up and released after her x-ray.
Photo Courtesy Dana Jones
At that time HMSRTO and the volunteers made a proposal to NOAA/David Schofield that we would look after her for as long as it took, but to please leave her in her current spot. This is what made this seal so very special to all of us that were looking after her. The moving of seals to other locations to spare the volunteers and get the seals out of harm’s way had not proven to be very successful. Many would perish in the first few months after moving them. We proposed to keep our watches ongoing until she made her way to wherever she was going to call home.
We looked after Ua’Malie for the next four months, continuing with 4 shifts each day. It proved to be a wonderful learning experience for us all, and she stayed safe. From sunup to sundown volunteers looked after her and trekked all over when she started swimming farther and farther away from her birth beach.
She would find little caves out on Kahuku point lava fields. Fishermen, who got use to seeing us all would tell us where she was. She would go out foraging and one fisherman swore he caught a huge Ulua because she scared it into shore. It was quite a big fish and he was very happy. Ua’Malie made us all very happy. She was such a feisty and entertaining girl.
Finally, a couple of days before Christmas we all decided that since she was now hanging out a few miles away in a very secluded place that we would cease the “watch”. We could all pat ourselves on the back that this special seal had made it to 6 months and was a very independent soul that we would all hike to see from time to time. Every sighting was a reassurance that we had done the right thing to keep her in her home.
There are so many people on this team that kept her safe and reported her whereabouts every single day. Lesley, Diane, Karen, Kelly, Melanie, Tony, Joy, Heide, Vera & Crew, the list goes on and on.
Photo Courtesy Kelly Evans
Becoming a Mother
Within 5 years, Ua’Malie would return to the Keiki Cove to bless us with pups:
6/27/2015 – Holokai, RG40
Photo Courtesy Carola Johnson
7/9/2016 – Lei Ola, RH48
Photo Courtesy Barbara Billand
7/17/2017 – Kahulu’okalae, RJ16
Photo Courtesy Diane Gabriel
Her last pup, RJ16, before succumbing to toxoplasmosis last year. This was a happy time for us all and this is what we would most like to remember. Our love and dedication to this seal has lasted for over 8 years. She would have been 9 years old on June 29, 2019. We all miss her more than anyone can ever know.