perspicillatus - Spectacled parrotfish - Uhu
Food Preparation: The uhu
was a delicacy for Hawaiians. It could be dried, fried, baked, or eaten raw. The liver of
the uhu was especially favored.
Stages: The spawn of the uhu are called `öhua.
The intermediate stage is called ponuhunuhu or pänuhu and the adult is the uhu.
Proverbs and Sayings: "Momomi wale ku`u `ono i ka
uhu mä`alo i ku`u maka" means, "My craving makes my mouth water for the
parrotfish passing before my eyes". This refers to many colors of the uhu
which is similar to ones sweetheart. The uhu was considered a fish that was
social and signified a bachelor or someone who was handsome.
Hawaiians believed that the behavior of the uhu reflected
what was happening in a fishermans household. If the uhu was very energetic
and swam about vigorously, this meant that there was too much unnecessary activity going
on in the household and that the fishermans wife was not behaving in a reserved
manner while her husband was away. If the uhu was seen rubbing its nose against
another uhu, the fisherman would immediately return to his home to punish his wife
for being flirtatious with other men.
"`Öhua palemo" was a saying that spoke of the
slippery `öhua, the spawn of the uhu. This spoke of someone who was clever
in getting away with mischief.
Interesting Stuff: The uhu was caught in a method
called käkä uhu. The uhu usually swims along by itself or with another
partner. A dummy uhu would be made out of wood and placed on a net. When the live uhu
approached the dummy, the net would be raised and the fish would be captured.
Legends: The uhu is a key character in the legend of
Puniakaia and Uhumaka`ika`i. The story goes something like this
One day, Puniakaia had the urge to go fishing with his mother. Throughout the
entire day, they only caught one fish called pauhuuhu. This was a young uhu.
Instead of eating the young fish, Puniakaia raised it until it became very large
and it was named Uhumaka`ika`i. When it was time, Puniakaia released the
large uhu and it is said that Uhumaka`ika`i became the parent of all the
fishes in the sea.
Whenever Puniakaia was in need of fish, hed call
upon his pet fish and Uhumaka`ika`i would flood the sea with enough fish to
satisfy the entire village. Any fish that remained would be set aside for the pigs and
dogs to eat.
There is another legend about Uhumaka`ika`i. Kawelo
and another fellow fisherman named Makuakeke set off to go fishing one day off
Wai`anae, O`ahu. Kawelo was insistent that he would capture a large uhu
that day. He waited all night long, but the large uhu did not appear. The following
morning, Makuakeke noticed dark clouds forming in the sky and he knew that Uhumaka`ika`i
was near. As the large uhu came near, Kawelo threw his net into the sea
and captured the large fish but Uhumaka`ika`i put up a strong fight. The two
fishermen were dragged away from the island of O`ahu till it was out of sight. Soon, they
reached the island of Kaua`i and Uhumaka`ika`i turned around and dragged them all
the way back to Waikïkï, O`ahu. There, Kawelo and Makuakeke were
finally able to apprehend the massive fish and Uhumaka`ika`i was killed.