Joe Kauwila captures shark in Hana, 1903.



It is not often that any one is towed under water by a shark and lives to tell the tale, but this is precisely what happened last Thursday to Joe Kauwila a native sailor aboard the steamer Claudine. Not only did he survive the experience, but at last accounts he was shoving a truck at the Wilder wharf today helping to load the steamer Claudine with freight.

On Thursday at Hana while the Claudine was in the port, the sailors heard that a dead horse had been moored near one of the buoys, for the purpose of attracting a shark. A big shovel nose shark about 12 feet in length, came circling in the vicinity of the horse. Captain Parker took a boat crew and went over by the buoy. J. Welch a man from the shore, shot at the shark with a rifle and struck the shark in the head and evidently stunned it. The idea of Captain Parker and the men in the boat was to get a line on the shark and haul it aboard. There were two young natives in the boat one of them Joe Kauwila. Joe is about 18 years of age and the other man about 20.

The shark could be seen a few yards away lying on its back. Some thought the shark had been killed. The natives talked of going over with the line.

“I think he no make,” ejaculated one of the men.

“Oh! I think he make, all right,” declared Joe. “Any how, plenty more kanakas. I try get line on him.” Joe hauled off his shirt, seized the line and started swimming toward the shark. He caught hold of the shark’s tail and began to put the line over the tail. The instant that the shark felt the boy catch hold of its tail, the shark sprang into sudden life, and started to swim. Joe held onto the shark’s tail though. Down went the shark intending evidently to dive under the boat.

By this time, Joe began to think that it would be safer for him to be in other company. He was game to the end, though, for he held on until he got the line fast about the shark’s tail, then the boy let go and rose to the surface on the opposite side of the boat from where the shark made its appearance.

“He no make” shouted the native, coming out of the water. “I got line on him. Here, we pull him in.”

Joe was helped into the boat and then the crew started to tow the shark to the steamer. It was finally decided to take the shark ashore so the boat was steered toward Hana and the shark landed and there dispatched.

The catch caused delight among the natives. There is a pork butcher in Hana but they say that there was no pork sold that day. People ate shovel nose shark instead, and enjoyed it too.

(Hawaiian Star, 3/31/1903, p. 8)


The Hawaiian Star, Volume XI, Number 3441, Page 8. March 31, 1903.

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