Seal the deal

LIHUE — The Hawaiian monk seal will be moving, said Kat Ho of Hale Opio.

“It will become part of a display at the Lihue Airport,” Kat said. “We found some material that resembles sand and the monk seal will be on top of it, surrounded by informative signs, and some observer guidelines created by students.”

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has declared 2017 as the Year of the Monk Seal because of its critically endangered status, and it made sense that the humpback whale display be replaced by one of the Hawaiian monk seal.

Ho said after being approached by Carol Yotsuda of the Garden Island Arts Council, about 50 students spent the last three months creating the 7-foot, nearly life-sized seal using paper mache.

“This took place before all the monk seal incidents,” Hp said. “The students learned a lot through researching and creating information placards, and by the time the monk seal incidents made the news, they were ready to have discussions about the seals.”

Starting with a framework using chicken wire, the seal took shape as students applied layer after layer of paper mache over the three months.

“Paper mache,” said Phyllis Hopeck, a monk seal monitor. “You remember working with paper mache? This seal turned out pretty realistic — awesome.”

Students spent Monday afternoon grooming the seal for its journey to the Lihue Airport, referring to photographs from Hopeck for detail.

“Hundreds of people will see it, daily,” Hopeck said. “We know it will educate a lot of people.”

Ho said following the seal’s tenure at the airport, she would like to find a place where it can be displayed so people can have a close-up look at the Hawaiian monk seal.

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