Did you know that our local waters are home to three species of mullet? Our shores are home to 'ama'ama (stipped mullet), uouoa (sharpnose mullet), and invasive kanda.
'Ama'ama, stripped mullet, is one of the most culturally important fish and a staple species of fishpond cultivation. Although fishing season is closed December - March, you can see schools of mullet at He'eia in both the fishpond with Pae'pae o He'eia and in the estuary stream with HOK.
The mullet schools at He'eia are mostly juveniles using the estuary as a nursery, Estuaries, where freshwater streams meet tidal waters, are important zones for young fish because they are highly productive and provide food and shelter. The schools in He'eia are typically mixed groups of 'ama'ama and invasive kanda. Kanda were accidentally introduced in the late 1950's and have flourished. Although they look and act similar to 'ama'ama, they only mature to about half the size of an adult 'ama'ama and compete for space with native juveniles.
Watching schools of young mullet can be entertaining because they are quite active and will jump out of the water. While 'ama'ama tend to jump singularly, kanda will jump in a group. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the juvenile fish from viewing in the water. The differences become clear in a side-by-side comparison as pictured above. 'Ama'ama scales are lined up laterally along the body giving the appearance of stripes. They also have a blue dot at the base of the pectoral fin. Kanda on the other hand have no coloration and have a regular scale pattern.
Restoring estuaries like He'eia plays an important role in the recovery of these important species. HOK is proud to work with the He'eia Partners to help reestablish our native fish populations.