Developed for the From Shore to the Abyss Program, this guide introduces students to sharks in Hawaiian culture and a variety of shark species within the region. This resource was designed by college students Max Buttrill, Ben Cammarata, and Ty Thompson in collaboration with Kelly Koller.
Sharks and Culture
The land and sea are intrinsic Hawaiian culture, passed on in mo’olelo, or oral histories. The inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands that existed before humans, including sharks, manō in Hawaiian, are regarded with the respect given to an elder relative. Of all beings, sharks are some of the most universally prevalent ‘aumekua, ancestors and family protectors. ‘Aumekua can be reincarnated family members, are highly revered, and often given offerings of food. In return for this reverence, it is believed that manō will come to family members in their dreams or in other ways to impart knowledge and guidance. Hawaiians classify sharks by personality, which is why there are three species (sandbar shark, gray reef shark, and Galapagos shark) included under one Hawaiian name, manō.