The Hawaiʻi aku fishery (skipjack tuna) originally supplied only the local market for fresh and dried tuna. Then, the Hawaiian Tuna Packers, Ltd. cannery was established (in 1916,) enabling the fishery to expand beyond a relatively small fresh and dried market.
This near-surface schooling tuna is widely distributed across the Pacific Ocean. Historically, the pole-and-line, live bait fishery for aku boats was the largest commercial fishery in Hawaiʻi. Annual pole-and-line landings of skipjack tuna exceeded 5.5 million lb from 1937 to 1973.
The new and expanding market for canned product allowed the fishery to grow; from 1937 until the early 1980s most of the skipjack tuna landed in Hawaiʻi was canned. From the beginning, Hawaiian Tuna Packers label was Coral Tuna or Coral Hawaiian Brand Tuna.
Aku was historically the most important single commercial fish species in terms of landed weight and value in Hawai‘i, as well as throughout much of the central and western Pacific. (DBEDT)
About ninety percent of the output was shipped to the mainland; the remaining ten percent was sold in Hawaiʻi. (The cans for packing the tuna are furnished by the Dole Company.)
The Japanese technique of catching tuna with pole-and-line and live bait resembled the aku fishing method traditionally used by Hawaiians. The pole-and-line vessels mainly targeted aku.
They generally fished within a few miles of the main Hawaiian Islands, because few vessels carried ice and the catch needed to be landed within four to five hours from the time of capture.
Most of the aku catch in Hawai‘i is landed by commercial pole-and-line fishermen who induce aku to bite on feathered hooks by chumming with live bait. The live bait the aku boats used was nehu (a small anchovy).
Aku fishermen need millions of nehu. (Hollier) Nehu spawn all year long and spawning peaks in summer although this peak may shift to late winter and early spring. Nehu eggs are planktonic, and incubation is about 24 hours. Very few nehu live longer than one year. (NMFS)
Kāne‘ohe Bay, located on the Windward side of O‘ahu, served as the leading baiting ground in Hawai‘i, producing, according to statistics compiled by the Territorial Division of Fish and Game, approximately 60 per cent of the total commercial catch. (Hiatt, 1951)
The aku boat went into Kāne‘ohe Bay about sundown and anchored in the bay outside the mouth of the Kahaluu River near the old Libby’s pineapple wharf. The boat was usually anchored fore and aft, with the bow facing the mountains.
“We waited for the tide to drop and that was when the nehu came downstream into the bay. That’s when you catch them with nets. The best time was when the tide started going out around sundown or shortly after sundown.”
“We’d fill the tanks with nehu and then take the boat farther out and anchor near the reef where the waves would keep the water in the bait tanks moving constantly in and out, circulating, so the nehu were kept alive.”
“Daytime scooping was different. You worked with a surround net. I’d stay on board and the rest of the crew would go out with the motorboat and the nets and catch the nehu here and there with surround nets.”
“Then they would bring the nehu back to the boat in the motorboat and we’d scoop them into the tanks with buckets. If we didn’t have enough nehu … we would anchor in the bay that evening and drop submarine lights that night around the boat. The lights attracted the nehu? [Yo Kondo, April, 1976]
Aku fishermen spend 3-5 days catching bait for few hours fishing. (Honolulu Record) A specialized bait well in amidships allowed them to carry live nehu, as well as provide ballast for stability.
When the crew spotted a flock of seabirds – the telltale sign of a school of aku – they would chum the waters with nehu, causing a feeding frenzy. (Hana Hou)
The important thing is to have enough nehu so that with plenty of bait in the water, the tuna can be kept around the fishing boat. (Honolulu Record)
Fisherman dipped lines with a single barbless (and baitless) hook into the water. Within seconds an aku would take the hook, and with a combination of physical strength and good timing, the fisherman would jerk it up, flick it over his shoulder and onto the deck, and drop his line back into the water. (Hana Hou)
When I was growing up, we called them the ‘mud flats’ – mauka runoff covered the fringe reefs in Kāneʻohe Bay. That’s not how it used to be …
The early twentieth century was a time when some parts of Kāneʻohe Bay were clear and clean with healthy coral reefs and a host of colorful fishes still apparent. The southern region near Kāneʻohe town became known for its ‘coral gardens.’
Around 1911, the Coral Gardens Hotel was built in the vicinity of what is now Makani Kai Marina. This resort’s featured attraction was a glass-bottom boat tour of the nearby reefs.
A brochure printed in 1919 described the underwater scenery: “Only those who have seen the Gardens can appreciate the marvelous beauty of their marine growth and the variety of undersea life they hold.”
“Looking through the glass-bottom boat, one sees a natural aquarium of vast extent, set in an undersea forest of strange trees and crags, valleys and Hills.”
These enthusiastic remarks were written by then-territorial governor CJ McCarthy. They may be the first promotion of an underwater tourist attraction in Hawai‘i.
The Coral Gardens Hotel, once located above the mouth of Kea‘ahala Stream, operated glass bottom boats which visited the famed ‘coral gardens’ of south Kāneʻohe Bay. The coral bottom was once regarded as among the most beautiful in Hawai’i. (Hawai‘i Coral Reef Inventory)
Arthur Loring MacKaye, the eldest son of the playwright/actor James Steele MacKaye, was the proprietor of the Coral Gardens. He was born in New York in 1863 and was a newspaper man in New York and Los Angeles. He came to Hawaii in 1910 and was the city editor for the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. (Mid-Pacific Magazine)
MacKaye wrote in the February 1916 issue of Mid-Pacific Magazine, “One of the most fascinating sights on the Island of Oahu, and within twelve miles of the Honolulu post office, over the Pali, are the Coral Gardens of Kaneohe Bay.”
“Here can be viewed in comfort through the glass bottom boats which ply from the Coral Garden Hotel, a strange and wonderful world, one which is a revelation to those who see it with its …”
“… strange marine life, its ‘painted’ fishes, curious coral formations, beautiful sea plants and ferns, fantastic water-snakes, so-called, of varied hues, and combination vistas of corrugated mountains and a typical South Sea Island with its palm-fringed sandy beach.”
“Since last winter over two thousand visitors, the majority of them tourists, have visited the Coral Gardens and have departed enthusiastic over the wonders of the under-water world seen there.”
“Many of these tourists have visited the marine gardens of Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, also the marine gardens of Bermuda and the West Indies, yet all have declared that nowhere else have they seen such a varied and beautiful scene of color and marine life as at the Coral Gardens of Kaneohe Bay.”
“[W]e board the big glass-bottomed boat in command of the local Admiral, who will pilot us to the beauty spots along the coral reefs.”
“Away we go, headed for Moku o Loe, (Coconut Island), which has been made famous by photographers and color artists, views of the island on glass being on exhibition at the San Francisco Exposition where they have attracted all art-lovers at the Hawaiian Building.”
“Within a few minutes the boat glides over the first reef, but this is a dead reef and illustrates the manner in which land is built up upon the coral reefs of the Pacific; here all is dark-colored silt with patches of coarse seaweeds and pieces of dirty coral.”
“A moment later we glide over another deep channel, for Kaneohe Bay is full of these channels radiating between the reefs, in fact the word ‘Kaneohe’ in ancient Hawaiian means ‘deep, still channels.’”
“From this spot is secured a wonderful view of the Koolau Mountains with their corrugated sides, which lift their heads to the clouds with their emerald green peaks shining in the morning sun, or standing out like bluish green silhouettes in the late afternoon, or when the setting sun crowns them with halos of rose flames. It is a sight to be remembered.”
“And here we come to the second reef, one which is partly dead on one side, but alive on the other, showing as we cross it in water only two or three feet deep, the changes in a coral reef-top from muddy silt to white coral sand, interspersed with crimson sponges and green seaweeds.”
“As we pass over the outer rim of this reef we take a peek through the covered plate-glass box which runs through the center of the boat.”
“It gives you an eerie sensation as we pass from the shallow reef into water fifty feet deep; and as the boat glides out you catch a glimpse of a coral precipice along the steep sides of which strange fish are swimming, and a moment later the boat seems to be floating in space of a bright green hue.”
“And then the fish! My, what a lot! Swarms of manini, yellowish green with vertical black stripes; kikakapus, yellow with black spots on their tail and a black rim around their heads; the aawa, ohu, pilani, and many other “painted” varieties.”
“But it is the rainbow fish which calls forth enthusiasm. This is a rare species which has never been seen in the aquarium, nor is there a specimen in the Bishop museum.”
MacKaye noted, “Probably no other one spot in the Territory of Hawaii can show such a wonderful variety of coral as the waters of Kaneohe Bay and the surrounding reefs on Windward Oahu.”
“Considerably over one hundred varieties of corals are known to exist in Kaneohe Bay, where lie the famous Coral Gardens, the sheltered formation of the encircling shores being advantageous to the propagation of nearly all the species inhabiting the Hawaiian waters.”
The original Coral Gardens resort and its tours persisted until shortly before World War II. Then more than a decade of massive dredging and removal of whole reefs for primarily military purposes obliterated the coral gardens in the calm, sheltered southern bay.
Prior to 1930, the coral reefs of Kāneʻohe Bay were still in excellent condition. Then, the area of the south basin was subsequently impacted by dredging, sedimentation and sewage discharge.
Much of the dredged reef mass, at least 15 million cubic yards, went into landfill and runway construction at the Marine base on Mokapu Peninsula. Many of the south bay’s pedestal-formed patch reefs were blasted apart and the rubble dredged up to clear landing zones for seaplanes. (Culliney, Islands in a Far Sea)
After a lot of hard work by a lot of people over a long time, Kāneʻohe Bay is recovering; while not yet back to being a ‘coral garden,’ invasive algae has literally been sucked off the coral, coral is recolonizing and the Bay and reefs are recovering.
Moku O Loʻe
Three brothers, Kahoe, Kahuauli and Pahu, and their sister, Loʻe, were sent from ʻEwa to live in Kāneʻohe. Loʻe lived on Moku o Loʻe (Loʻe’s island). Kahuauli was a farmer at Luluku (in the area of Puʻu Kahuauli). Kahoe was a farmer near Haiku and Keaʻahala; and Pahu was a fisherman in Pohakea (in the area of Puʻu Pahu). (Jokiel, HIMB)
When Pahu went to visit Kahoe he always received poi from him. In return, he gave Kahoe small leftover baitfish instead of good large ulua that he caught daily. Kahoe eventually learned of Pahu’s deceit from Loʻe who came over from her island to visit him. (Jokiel, HIMB)
Several months later there was a famine and everyone hid the smoke from their cooking fires to avoid having to share their food with others. Kahoe was able to conceal his smoke in his valley. It traveled one to two kilometers before appearing on the summit of the cliff.
One evening Loʻe caught Pahu looking longingly at Keaʻahala and said, “So, standing with eyes looking at Keahiakahoe (Kahoe’s fire).” To this day the peak carries this name. (Jokiel, HIMB)
Surrounding Kāneʻohe Bay landward are, again, the Koʻolau Mountains. Seen to the right of Mōkapu Peninsula’s Puʻu Papaʻa and in the foreground is Puʻu Pahu, a hill on the mainland overlooking Moku o Loe. Lilipuna Pier, which provides access by boat to Moku o Loʻe, is located here. This headland is known as Pōhākea.
To the right and continuing southwest are the peaks of Puʻu Kōnāhuanui, Puʻu Lanihuli, Puʻu Kahuauli and Puʻu Keahiakahoe. These surround the large valley of Kaneohe.
It came under the ownership of Bishop Estate. In 1933, Chris Holmes, owner of Hawaiian Tuna Packers (later, Coral Tuna) and heir to the Fleischmann yeast fortune, purchased the island for his tuna-packing factory.
Later, Holmes tried to transform Coconut Island into his own private paradise. He enlarged the island, built the ponds, harbors and seawall surrounding the island. He also planted large numbers of coconut palms which gave rise to its popular name, “Coconut Island”.
Holmes bought a 4-masted schooner in Samoa, the Seth Parker, and had it sailed north to Hawai‘i. It leaked so much on the trip that it was declared unseaworthy. He permanently moved the Seth Parker to Coconut Island. This boat was used in the movie “Wake of the Red Witch”, starring John Wayne. (HIMB)
Christian Holmes built outdoor bars at various points around the island. He had a bowling alley built, and reconstructed a shooting gallery on the island that he had bought at an amusement park in San Francisco. (HIMB)
That’s not all. Coconut Island even housed a small zoo for a short time. Animal residents included: donkeys, a giraffe, monkeys and a baby elephant. Upon Holmes’s death, these animals became the basis for the Honolulu Zoo (along with the Honolulu Bird Park at the Kapiʻolani Park site).
The baby elephant was known as “Empress” at the zoo and died of old age in 1986. Zookeepers believe her to be the longest living captive elephant. (HIMB)
After Chris Holmes passed away in 1944 Coconut Island was used for an Army Rest & Recreation center until it was bought by five investors. Eventually Edwin Pauley became principal owner.
During World War II the army used the island as a rest camp for combat officers, building barracks and adding electrical, plumbing and a sewage disposal plant and improving the dock facilities. After the war, Holmes put the island up for sale and Edwin W Pauley, his brother Harold, SB Mosher, Poncet Davis and Allen Chase (wealthy oil men) purchased it for $250,000.
Pauley, the leader of the group, was a Los Angeles oilman, former treasurer of the National Democratic Party and Reparations Commissioner after the end of World War II.
Through a collaboration of Paul R Williams and A Quincy Jones, a concept plan was developed to use the island as a millionaire’s playground and exclusive resort – Coconut Island Club International.
Described by Ed Pauley as the ultimate “retreat for tired businessmen,” the drawing shows the four-story, 26-suite hostel and proposed amenities. Swimming pools, boathouses, tennis courts, bowling alley, and a lookout tower with a view of Kaneohe Bay and Oahu were all part of the master plan.
Forty-five minutes by speedboat from Honolulu, Coconut Island was the south sea location of the 1940s paradise for five wealthy American businessmen.
With year-round temperate weather, luxuriant plantings, natural wading pools and a world-class dock for expensive pleasure boats, the island was the perfect setting for a private resort where “members and their families can enjoy vacations under the most delightful conditions possible anywhere in the world.” (Los Angeles Times, February 16, 1947)
Their vision of the resort island as an exclusive private club, a “combination millionaire’s playground and crossroads hostel for high level international citizens,” owned and frequented by “substantial people – important people, if you will, notables, or call them what you like…” proved to be too restrictive to support the grand building project. Soon after the drawing was completed, the venture was abandoned.
Eventually, Edwin Pauley, bought out the interests of the other four and became the sole owner of the island. Here, his family spent their summers. Many famous people spent time on Coconut Island as a guest of Edwin Pauley. Some of these include: Harry Truman, Lyndon B Johnson, Red Skelton, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
By the early 1950s Edwin Pauley was approached by the marine biologists at the University of Hawaii’s fledgling Marine Laboratory to use the island’s boat facilities as a base for their research vessel. Pauley responded, “We have a lot of other facilities here. Could you use anything else on the Island?” (Kamins, A History of the UH)
He leased the necessary land to the State “rent free.” The original main laboratory building burned down. Pauley donated the funds to replace it (it was completed in 1965.)
Following the death of Edwin Pauley in the early 1980s, the island was put up for sale. A Japanese real estate developer, Katsuhiro Kawaguchi, offered $8.5 million in cash and purchased the island.
Later, the Pauley Foundation and Trustees approved a grant of $7.615 million to build a marine laboratory to be named the Pauley-Pagen Laboratory. The Pauley family provided the UH Foundation with the $2 million necessary to buy the private portion of the island from Mr. Kawaguchi.
Instead of a millionaire’s playground, the island became a haven for world-class scientists at the Hawaiʻi Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB.) While some generally refer to the island as “Coconut Island,” (and it was featured in the opening scene of Gilligan’s Island, a 1960s television sitcom,) let us not forget its original name, Moku O Loʻe.
They are easy to identify … and their name tells you what to look for (their body and head shape resemble a hammer, when viewed from above (or below.))
Marine organisms generate an electric field around their body; some believe the shape of the hammerhead’s head allows electro-receptive organs in the animal to have increased sensory abilities – a beneficial quality when searching for prey.
In addition, the head shape may aid in their movements, providing lift or possibly a smaller turning radius.
Since sharks are ‘apex predators’ at the top of their food chain, they may influence the population structure of species lower in that food chain.
The sharks are found in warm and tropical waters, worldwide from 46° north to 36° south. They can be found down to depths of over 1,600 feet, but is most often found above 80-feet. During the day they are more often found close to shore and at night they hunt further offshore.
The scalloped hammerhead, one of the most commonly seen hammerhead sharks in Hawaiʻi, generally reaches between 5 to 10-feet in length – adults are usually found in the open ocean, often around seamounts or outer reef slopes.
Most fish hatch from eggs outside the females’ bodies, but hammerheads, as well as other sharks, are born alive – the shark babies are called ‘pups.’ As the pups grow, they spread out, forming schools that feed on the bottom at night. At maturity, the young sharks head offshore. (Scott)
Kāneʻohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, is a pupping and nursery ground for the scalloped hammerhead shark and hammerhead shark pups are the most abundant top-level predator in the bay. (Lowe)
Females travel to shallow, protected waters in the spring and summer months to give birth.
Between April and October, adult hammerhead sharks enter Kāneʻohe Bay, deliver 15 to 30-pups about 20-inches long, mate and then leave. (Scott)
It is estimated that as many as 5,000-10,000-shark pups are born in Kāneʻohe Bay each year and that the pups remain in the bay only 3-4 months after being born. They eat small fish and crustaceans.
Young hammerheads graze along the bay floors, mostly at night. As the youngsters grow, they gradually move to the mouths of the bay and eventually join their relatives in the deep water. (Scott)
Adults occur singly, in pairs, and in small schools while young scalloped hammerhead sharks live in large schools. It is thought that male and female scalloped hammerheads may segregate during certain times of their life history. (ufl-edu)
Hammerheads are among the majority of sharks whose attacks on people, if they happen at all, are defensive in nature. Almost all sharks will show an aggressive display if cornered, as will most animals. (pbs)
Though hammerheads are not usually aggressive, they should be considered potentially dangerous.
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