Hikianalia Update | April 22, 2015
The Polynesian voyaging canoe Hikianalia is on a 2,400 mile return journey from Aotearoa to Hawaii. Crewmembers will be sending frequent updates so that educators and students can track her progress in conjunction with the Worldwide Voyage Tracking Map.
After several days of helping Timi, our fisherman, setting out the fishing lines early in the morning on my watch, the crew was hopeful once more that today would be a successful fishing day. Around 10am in the morning I saw several schools of malolo [flying fish] jumping out of the water thinking that a predator might be chasing them. Not long after that, one of our fishing lines got a strike, and I called out “hana paʻa!” Crewmember Kalau and I went to the fishing line to pull in the fish. The canoe was racing ahead at about 9 knots and Brad asked if we should slow down the canoe, but I said not to worry; it’s was a small fish. However, as the fish got closer to the canoe I realized it was a good sized mahimahi and asked Brad to slow down the canoe. Brad directed the crew to sheet out the main sail and turn into the wind. At this point the mahimahi was alongside the hull and Kalau did a perfect head gaff so we could pull the Mahimahi on board. The Mahimahi turned out to be a male of about 4 feet and 35 pounds. The crew was very excited as we envisioned the fresh mahimahi prepared in different ways on their plate. For lunch, Nakua prepared poke mahimahi, fried mahimahi with special mustard sauce and rice. For dinner Puaita (in Tahiti known as Raihau) prepared some poisson cru, and Kaleo made a fish head soup. And everybody went to sleep happily ever after.
The only way to supplement food supplies on ancient voyaging canoes at sea was to catch fish, and possibly birds. Fishing was a matter of survival. In the same tradition, fishing is not considered a pastime or sport aboard Hōkūleʻa. A good-sized fish provides a day or two of food for crewmembers, stretching food supplies and lengthening survival time at sea. One crewmember aboard the canoe serves as a designated fisherman, responsible for putting out lines at sunrise, bringing in the catch with the assistance of other crewmembers, and pulling in the lines at sunset.
Pelagic fish caught and consumed onboard are measured, weighed and analyzed by crewmembers. Fin clip samples will be used for DNA analysis to better understand the genetic make-up of global fish stocks. Studying stomach contents assists in our understanding of fish species in marine food webs.