Monday, June 8, 2009

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in June

What's happening in Hawaii during
the 2nd week in June

"Hua ka 'ulu ku mai ka he'e
When the breadfruit is ripe, the squid comes in."

 This month begins the main bearing season for 'ulu, or breadfruit. The Hawaiians brought 'ulu to the islands as an important source of starchy food. Here, the tree fruits year round but bears most heavily in the summer, and this seems to have served as a reminder that squid would also be abundant.

He'e can refer to either squid or octopus, and on first reading of this proverb, octopus seems more likely because it is found near the shore, while squid stays in deep water. But the cultural historian who translated this proverb probably chose squid with good reason. 

Though modern science has no evidence that either animal "comes in" to shore during the summer, the orange-backed flying squid is the more plentiful at this time and would have been accessible to Hawaiian fishermen at places where the sea floor slopes off sharply from land.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

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