Photo Credit: Jacob Medina

Mo'olelo o Paumalu


On Oahu there once lived a woman who was recognized for her ability to catch.  If there was anyone who could catch a lot of squid that person was highly valued.

One day a chief decided to hold a great luau and wanted squid. He sent some of his men in search of someone who could catch squid and eventually brought the woman to him.  He told her he wanted the squid from a very specific reef and asked if she was able to catch some for him.  She said she could catch all the squid he wanted.

She walked along the beach to the reef the chief selected but just before she was about to enter the water she was approached by an old man who told her that she’s only supposed to catch a certain number of squid and returned home or something would be sure to happen to her.  She called for her daughter who had followed and told her to come with her into the water.  A few hours passed and the lady caught all she had been allowed by the old man but she kept fishing until she had more than she could handle. She sent her daughter to the shore with half of the load and told her she was ready to go home but instead she stayed as she saw a huge squid she wanted to get. Just as she reached to grab the squid a huge shark came out of nowhere and bit off her legs.  Her daughter rushed to save her but it was too late.

When the people examined her later they knew that it was done by a particular shark who guards that reef.  After that incident they named the place Paumalu which means “taken by surprise”.