Charlie, Kauai's Octopus Bounty Hunter
(Photo courtesy of SKA)
As intelligent, resourceful, and innovative as the octopus might be, they are no match for a determined octopus fisherman. On the beautiful Garden Island, the oldest sibling of the Hawaiian
volcanic chain, Charlie, aka The Octopus Bounty Hunter, is arguably the creme de la creme.
Weather and tide permitting, Charlie is up long before the multicolored bantam roosters, running wild and overpopulating the island with their fowl presence, even think about clearing their throats with that first morning crow.
He is dedicated, organized, and relentless in his pursuit of the octopus.
It is rumored that the tentacled arthropods all along the Kauai coastline do their mating whenever Charlie takes a day off. Loosely interpreted, this means that the octopi are recreating and procreating only during high tides and nasty weather conditions.
I can just see it now. On any given reef or local ocean bed, the blinking (rapid color-changing) male of the species is calling out to his potential mate,
"Eh, honey! Mo' bettah we hook up right now befo' dat Chahlie come around, yeah?"
"Okay, sweetie! I goin' put on my puka-coral necklace and be right ovah!"
"Yeah, well, hurry up because I stay all stressed out. And you know how dat affect my performance!"
Ah, yes...the ongoing quest otherwise known as the survival of the fittest.
I jest, of course, but it's all in an effort to underscore just how good this local boy is.
Just a few months ago, he was sitting at home wondering how he was going to get rid of 300 pounds of frozen octopus meat in order to make room for the rest of his family's frozen goods.
Then, one day, after talking story (shooting the breeze) with his brother who has a small business on eBay, Charlie was inspired to pursue Craigslist as a viable means of marketing and selling his overflow. Charlie had seen ads on the local site for selling opihi (Hawaiian limpet), but he wasn't sure how the sale of tako would fare on that online marketing venue.
But the listing was free, so why not try?
And try he did.
At first, nothing happened.
Gradually, however, he began getting a few nibbles. Soon, the nibbles turned to gobbles. Within a month's time, the volume of demand surpassed the volume of he'e that had been sitting on ice.
At $5 a pound, a most reasonable price in today's economy...and certainly far less expensive than what the grocery stores were asking...Charlie soon sold out his frozen octopus.
Now, with most of his bills paid and money in his pocket, the delicious dilemma he faced was to go fish for more octopus to help feed his family and hustle up a decent income for living expenses. I use the adjective delicious because, next to his aloha for his family, Charlie LOVES to go fishing. It's in his blood. It's in his Polynesian heritage. It's in his very soul.
Long a decent spear fisherman in both shallow shore as well as over-the-reef fishing, Charlie began concentrating more on finding and capturing the elusive tako. Some days, he came up empty-handed...well, not really, because he would always have the fallback benefit of spearing a variety of fish. Most of the time, he found his octopus. Quite frequently, as in the photo above, and especially in his more recent dives, he has caught multiple octopi.
Charlie's hobby/business has grown to the point where he's established a more than sufficient customer base. In fact, he has had to delete his listing on Craigslist.
Recently, I kidded with him. "Charlie, maybe you better hire that Jamaican guy I saw lying on the beach last December."
(Click on the link below. Check out the post and find the photo of the colorfully clad Rastafarian of whom I was referring.)
Charlie laughed. But he and I were on the same page. When good things happen as the result of seizing golden opportunities in the midst of struggling, there's a part of us that wants to share our good fortune with others.
I never preach to Charlie, and he shows me the same respect. But we do speak spiritually nonetheless. We know there's a compassionate God who cares about each and every one of us here on earth. We keep it simple. We thank Him in our own special way. Charlie pays homage every day he leaves the beauty of the sea. I like to think I do it every time I pound out a post on my two blogs.
In any event, I keep in touch with Charlie on a weekly basis. I like hearing of his successes. He and I have had our share of dark times. In the late summer of his life, and in the autumn of mine, we have hopefully begun learning that no matter how dark things may seem, there's always light peeking in somewhere. We just need to go look for it.
Speaking of light, I couldn't think of a more fitting way to bring today's post to a conclusion than to present you with something lighthearted to watch.
(I want to thank fellow blogger, Shirley Hao, who shared the following video with the readers of her post dated December, 2009, in the earthjustice.org blog. I also want to acknowledge the team of scientific researchers from Australia's Museum Victoria who made the video.)