On May 16, 1998, while at the Maui Ocean Center, I was called on my cellular phone that Aharon Miroz and his crew was heading for Lahaina to bring in a Pigmy whale which beached earlier fronting the Chart House in Lahaina. They requested that I come and pule (pray) for the whale when they arrive. Uluwehi (my mo'opuna, grandchild) was at the Center attending a conference and was asked to come with me. For the last 6 months we blessed every shark that was caught and brought into the Ocean Center.

When the whale arrived, it (later learned to be a male) was bleeding and had numerous cuts from the reef. He was put into a holding tank and I was asked to pule. I placed my hand on his head and was amazed at how smooth its skin was. It was like touching an inflated rubber tube that was underwater, but smoother. It was kind of hard to describe because I was overwhelmed with the fact that this animal which Hawaiians call Palaoa, is the Kinolau (physical representation) of the god Kanaloa. As I chanted this beautiful animal started to flag its tail and take several "gulps" of air through his blowhole. When Uluwehi started to 'Olelo Pule (Hawaiian prayer), he again got "exited". It was a good Hoailona (sign) that he would be all right.

The love that everyone had there was "awesome". The divers, the veterinarian, scientist, people that had helped keep the whale alive in the water, the staff of the Maui Ocean Center, collectively united to send out love to this injured animal.

Jack Kahahane, his wife and children came down to see, "his baby" and was impressed with the care that was given to this little animal. He was maka'i (felt good) to see how everyone was malama (caring) for this rare gift of the ocean.

Skippy Hau of the Department of Land and Natural Resources called and said that tomorrow morning the decision on the disposition would be made. On Sunday morning at 5:00am. Aharon Miroz the curator of the Maui Ocean Center stated that the whale had survived through the night and regained his strength and would be released back into the ocean.

In seeing the pygmy whale I noticed that its wounds were much better and it was swimming around the tank by itself. It was very touching to see how this animal was trying to touch everyone around the tank and was enjoying us rubbing and talking to him. Every now and then it would turn in the water to get a better "look" at the people around the tank.

We said our aloha to this ancient representation of our Hawaiian gods, with chants and prayers and thanked them for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Two boats from the Maui Ocean Center were used to return this Aumakua (god), to the ocean from where it came. Poina ole wau ia oe, (I will never forget you).

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, "Uncle Charlie"
Hawaiian Consultant - Maui Ocean Center

Whale beaching points out need for protocol, The Maui News, July 16, 1998

Ho`iho`i Mai