Monday, January 18, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in January - aku

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 3rd Week in January:
In Hawaiian tradition, a major fishing kapu was reversed at about this time, as the Makahiki season came to a close. Catching aku (Katsuwonus pelamis) was now permitted, and taking of another important fish, the 'opelu (mackerel  scad), was prohibited. This kapu served to protect the two fish, helping ensure ample supplies in years to come. Present regulations place no seasonal restrictions on aku and 'opelu fishing, but the largest catches are still made during the months allowed by the old kapu

Also called skipjack tuna or ocean bonito, aku move in big schools and will bite on almost anything during their daily feeding frenzies. Hawaiian fishing fleets of outrigger or double-hulled canoes exploited this trait the same way local sampans do today. Locating feeding schools by the seabirds that follow them, Hawaiian fishermen attracted aku with live nehu, the silvery native anchovy, then used mother-of-pearl lures to land fish in rapid succession. A Hawaiian warning against greedy behavior says "The aku rush to eat."   

Click here to learn more about aku from the website.

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

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