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Relics of Ancient Hawaii

Ancient Hawaiian relics have been found underwater at Molokini.

Molokini provided an excellent resource for Hawaiians, who used to fish its calm morning waters with nets made of ‘olona, firebrand, and stone sinkers. Divers can sometimes still find old sinker stones. These ancient Hawaiian relics are the size of one’s hand and shaped like coffee beans. Hawaiian fishermen also used to chew bits of the kukui nut and spread them over the sea to make the water clear and glassy. This enabled them to see what was going on beneath the surface. Hawaiians’ ingenious fishing methods were not limited to nets, baits, and nuts, but even included the use of medicinal plants that temporarily poisoned fish and made them float to the surface. Imagine, such a simple method of harvesting fish that was safe for human consumption!

Other ancient Hawaiian relics from old fishing days may be spotted by divers in the waters of Molokini. If snorkelers or scuba divers find large, smooth stones that look like they have been worn soft by waves, these were brought in by Hawaiians for a fishing practice known as palu (chum). The palu was a bait mixture of ground fish, octopus ink, and plants. The palu was tied to a hook and wrapped in a coconut leaf, attached to the stone, and dropped into the sea. The fisherman then yanked the cord, opening the package of palu down current. This practice attracted bigger fish to the area than would have otherwise been nearby.

Other ancient Hawaiian relics to look out for are the teardrop sinker stones known as pohakialoa (long stone), which were up to 10 inches in length. These stones have been spotted up to depths of 180 feet by divers off of the island of Molokai.

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