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What Fish Will I See on the Four Winds?

Fish In The Beach

What is Hawaii’s State Fish?

Four Winds II Maui Molokini Crater and Coral Gardens Snorkel tours Humunukunukuapuaa eThe state fish of Hawaii is the beautiful, colorful Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. The literal meaning in Hawaiian is said to be “triggerfish with a snout like a pig”.  This is one of many in the triggerfish family and it is endemic to the salt water coasts of various central and south pacific.

The humuhumu was named the official state fish of Hawaii in 2006.  These fish are also known as the rectangular triggerfish, Lagoon triggerfish, Picasso triggerfish, or the Hawaiian triggerfish. They are fun to find on our Maui reefs, with their variety of colors, bright blue lips and yellow stripes. humumu’s are smaller triggerfish and extremely fast, so have your camera ready when you are snorkeling in Maui!

The humuhumu’s teeth are blue and are set close together inside its relatively chubby mouth.  Their shape gives them the ability to wedge itself into small crevices and lock its spine, which makes it extremely difficult to get out. Another defense mechanism they have is they can make grunting noises; possibly a call to warn other nearby triggerfish of danger at hand. Should you be lucky enough to see these colorful beauties while snorkeling in Hawaii, observe but always give them their space.

One particularly interesting aspect of the fish’s behavior is the ability to blow jets of water from its mouth. These jets help the fish find some of their food source that may be buried under the sand. The humuhumu can often be seen spitting sand from their mouths in order to sift through the material in search of something to eat. Reef triggers are fairly aggressive and will generally not tolerate other species in its general vicinity, thus the fish is often found solitary. Triggers have the remarkable ability to rapidly alter their coloration. They can fade into a relatively drab appearance when sleeping or demonstrating submission while the coloration is often the most vivid when the fish is healthy and unthreatened by its surroundings.

Keep practicing, it’s a fun one to say once, you’ve got it! Humuhumunukunukuapua’a… Humuhumunukunukuapua’a…

Potter’s Angelfish

 marine life 074 300x225An endemic species to waters around Hawaii, the Potter’s Angelfish inhabit reef slopes, rocky ledges, and rubble areas of the Hawaiian Islands. These fish live in clear water from 10-150’ and will reach anywhere from 2-4 inches. The body has an oval shape which is brilliantly colored with orange over the front and upper sides. It is marked by many vertical lines of dark blue-purple or black, which sometimes are so dense as to make the lower and posterior parts of the body appear as a solid, beautiful deep blue color.

The Potter’s Angelfish, like other angels, is an egg laying fish that start out sexually undifferentiated and develop into females, with the most dominant transforming to male. They are generally found in harems with a dominant male and several females.  The naming of this fish honors the memory of Mr. Frederick A. Potter (1874-1961), who served from 1903 to 1940 as the first Director of the Waikiki Aquarium.

When I first came to Maui, I never thought I’d get this one but soon found it to be quite easy when sounded out. Before we get into further discussion of this beauty, let’s learn how to pronounce the name properly … “who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-poo-ah-ah”.


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