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The Octopus Whisperer of Kaua'i
Great octopus fishing here!
How many octopuses is Charlie holding up?
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As a former Kaua'i local boy , I often come across photos and videos that make me homesick for the Garden Island. The images that are of greatest interest to me are those that deal with family or fishing. It's a double bonus for me, then, when I come across photos that involve both genre.
My brother, Charlie, recently sent the above photo to me. My first reaction was one of awe. When I was a teenager and still living at home, my little brother refused to participate in anything that involved the Hawaiian culture. He loathed fish and poi, didn't feel comfortable in the ocean, and was constantly struggling with allergies. He was so different from the rest of the family that I often teased him--ashamedly so--about how we found him on the front porch one day and adopted him.
The Great Creator has a wonderful sense of humor. Charlie grew up to become the most proficient fisherman in our family. Today, he knows more about the ancient Polynesian ways than I will ever have a clue about. Unlike the rather mean way I used to treat him in our youth, he is graciously eager to teach his older brother a thing or two about the island way.
I am especially intrigued with his skill at fishing for octopus. It's more than just the physical aspect of wading on the reef, gliding on the surface while surveying either the golden sand or the coral beds below, or diving two or three fathoms to check out a potential octopus lair.
Charlie has a special mana-- a unique spiritual energy, if you will--that makes him one with the sea the moment he touches the water. He exudes a certain confidence that is contagious while being self-contained.
No wonder, then, that my brother is so adept at catching octopus. The tentacled sea creature is arguably one of the most intelligent and elusive of marine life, and yet this master of camouflage and stealth is no match for Charlie.
My brother meditates in his own private way long before he enters the water. He studies his tidal charts and the patterns of the moon. He pores over the meticulous capture records he's kept over the years. Over time, he's mentally mapped where every coral bed or volcanic rock lies on the sea floor in key octopus haunts.
Charlie's successful fishing provides our extended family with food. it's also an effective income-producing pastime. Using the local Craigslist venue, my brother has made an abundant amount of sales to families seeking to shore up their festive luau fare as well as to fishermen desiring fresh-caught octopus--fondly nicknamed blinkers due to their near-death flashing camouflage throes--mesmerizing bait for ulua (giant trevally or jackfish) and other deep sea game.
My brother could aptly be called The Octopus Whisperer because of his uncanny success at locating and catching the wily mollusk.
Or is his whisper upon leaving the sea each time a quiet form of thanksgiving to the Giver of Abundance?
More Hubs About Hawai'i
- The Limu Picker
To provide for his family, this writer's father harvested limu kohu--a species of edible seaweed--on the reefs of Kakanui on the northeast coast of Kaua'i. Decades later, a son's poem and a grandson's photograph pay tribute to the family patriarch.
- The Day I Almost Lost My Dad to a Convicted Killer
Years after a nine-year-old boy experiences a traumatic event, he finds a higher purpose for chronicling it. Hawaiian Odysseus offers up a tribute to his heroic father.
- 'Opihi--The Hawaiian Limpet
The dome-shaped shell of the 'opihi, or limpet, seems appropriate given its propensity for existing among the tumultuous waves and rocky edges of volcano-birthed islands. Let's take a closer look at this favorite seafood of Pacific Islanders.