'Oli means joy in Hawaiian. These paintings were created to illustrate a childrenís book, Finding 'Oli *. From 2008 into 2010, my friend Anita and I snorkeled with this endangered hawksbill turtle in Makena, Maui. We knew where to find her, and she seemed to recognize us as we approached, ready to take a little excursion together. One day Anita discovered a lump on 'Oliís neck and reported it to the authorities in Oahu. We were delighted that their concern for this rare turtle was serious enough to bring the director of turtle research to Maui. Fewer than 20 hawksbills have been spotted in Maui waters. With Anitaís help, 'Oli was located and she willingly allowed herself to be carried to shore. She then flew with her rescuer to Oahu where she was examined by a turtle specialist who found that she had a large abscess on her neck. He drained it and placed her on antibiotics. Five days later she was returned to her ocean home on Maui. Every day the following month Anita searched for 'Oli with no success. We were very concerned for her. Then one day, I knew that we would find 'Oli. We discovered her far beyond the reef which had formerly been her home territory. I was so touched to see that this little turtle (about 6 years old) had expanded her horizons as a result of her trip to the big city. It was a wonderful story of love, help and survival which I had to celebrate through the arts.
*(the book is looking for a publisher)
ABOUT Finding 'Oli .
You are invited to read Finding 'Oli here on my website. The story has been beautifully crafted from my initial manuscript by my sister-in-law, Margaret Monto. It follows the true story described above and is filled with information about this critically endangered turtle along with etiquette for the respect of the sea and its creatures. NOAA, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and USFW have all played a part in the story and were intimately involved with 'Oli. I accompanied my friend Anita Wintner (the namesake of this story) on many sightings of 'Oli and have used her hundreds of photographs as the basis for my watercolor illustrations. Anita is the co-founder of the Snorkel Bob Foundation which supports the protection of the reef and its creatures. The story is primarily for middle readers. I believe this book will spread joy as well as valuable information.