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Cover Image: Masthead of Ke Kumu Hawaii published on March 28, 1838.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

If you search the Hawaiian language newspapers online, there are not that many stories about dolphins. Hopefully there will be more readily found after all the pages are clearly digitized. However, being dolphin references are few and far between, here is one we came across the other day, submitted by Naili.

Image: “Na Naia ma Kahana,” Ke Kumu Hawaii, March 28, 1838, p. 87.

Dolphins in Kahana

This is something astonishing here in Kahana. On the 14th of December, 1837, Friday, I went to Kaʻaʻawa at 10 o’clock. I stayed there until the afternoon at 3 o’clock. I returned from Kaʻaʻawa and arrived at Makaua. There were no men, women, or children. I asked of some old women in a house, “Where are your people?” “They all went to see the fish.” I asked further, “What fish?” They replied, “Dolphin.” My feet hurried on to Puʻuomahia, and I saw canoes and many people grasping the fish in the sea: the men, women, and children were catching them. A strong man could catch 12 fish, a weak man could catch 8 fish, and a very weak one could catch 4 fish. A strong woman could catch 6 fish, a weaker one could catch 3 fish, and very weak one could catch 1 fish. A strong child could catch 4 fish, a weaker one could catch 2 fish, while a very weak one could catch 1 fish. This is where the fish were caught: on the beak, on the fin on its back, on the flippers; that is where those large fish were caught. Some of them were 7 feet long. Some were 6 feet long and 3 feet around. The dead fish count was 206, and their flesh was eaten by the people.

Another valuable thing obtained from that fish was oil. Bottles and lapalapa1 and bamboo sections were filled. That is what we burn for light. People cut them up until they grew weary, and the dogs ate, the pigs ate; and the ocean, the 3 river mouths, and the land was putrid. That is what I have to describe to us all.

By me, Naili.

(Kumu Hawaii, 3/28/1838, p. 87)

1Lapalapa seems to be a type of container. It may refer to ‘ōmole lapalapa.

Image: Kahana Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. ca. 1880. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 96720.

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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