Halalu schools in session as long-distance fliers return
This time of the year is one of high anticipation for fishermen, wondering if this will be the week that the halalu (juvenile akule) come racing toward freshwater outlets at various bays in the islands.
Halalu schools come in between July and November. You'll know the fish are running when you see crowds at Oahu's most popular bays -- Haleiwa Boat Harbor, Waimea Bay and Kaneohe Bay, at the Ala Wai and sometimes Kailua Beach, according to Richard Young, editor of the Driftwood online newsletter for fishermen (HawaiiBeachcombers.com).
You'll see many families and plenty of fishing poles in the water, and you'll see families storing memories to last a lifetime.
Ask those folks who fish for halalu why they never have photos, and you'll get the same answer: "Too busy fishing!" If you stop and watch the excitement, you'll understand why.
The state Division of Aquatic Resources notes that it is unlawful to take akule under 8 1/2 inches with net from July through October, a regulation established in 1968 to protect stocks of young akule. The rest of the year, halalu may be taken by nets with a minimum mesh size of 1 1/2 inches.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Hopeful halalu fishermen try their luck at Haleiwa Beach Park on the North Shore.
Yes, fish gotta swim -- but also, birds gotta fly, and it's time for two more annual visitors to return.
Our Pacific golden plovers ("kolea" in Hawaiian) and ruddy turnstones (akekeke) will begin appearing in our skies as we approach August. First will come the adults, completing their incredibly long, nonstop journey from the Arctic region, followed a few weeks later by the immature birds born in that Arctic nesting area this season.
Watch for plovers -- gold and brown speckled shorebirds with noticeably long legs -- that have discovered the inland bounty of worms, snails and insects in parks, cemeteries, golf courses, lawns. The distinctive call of the plover (some say it's a long "tsueeeet") can be heard day and night. You might stop noticing, until the sound begins to fade in April or May as the birds begin their return to the Arctic.
Then you'll notice the silence.
The turnstones can be seen along shorelines, mud flats, fields and lawns -- often in small flocks. One thing that will catch your eye is the synchrony of an entire flock near the water's edge, rising and turning in unison. (And, yes, turnstones do, indeed, turn over stones with their beaks and break open seabird eggs.)
Phil and Andrea Bruner, biology researchers at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, track turnstones on both sides of the Pacific -- flying into Arctic breeding grounds to look for banded birds they have been following for years.
They're hoping to hear from readers who see banded birds on Oahu.
Their birds wear silver metal leg bands and a combination of color bands. If you see one, take note of the exact sequence of colored bands on each leg and contact the Bruners with the location and date of the sighting, plus your name and contact information. Write Phil Bruner, Biology Department, BHUH, 55-220 Kulanui St., Laie 96762; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 293-3825.
The Bruners caution that the birds should not be handled or scared away from the areas in which they are found. Do not feed or coax them to come near. Take photos if you can, but be mindful of their habitat and keep your distance.
teaches botany, ethnobotany and environmental science at Chaminade University. Her column runs on the last Monday of the month. E-mail her at email@example.com