It’s a Maui ‘Tang’
While snorkeling in Maui you’ll come across tons of beautiful tropical fish called Tangs. They are bright, beautiful and easy to spot. Part of the Surgeonfish family, their features are oval and thin. They have a small mouth that looks puckered, and their eyes are set high on the head. Most of them have a scalpel like spine at the base of its tail. The blades on either side of the tail are used in defense from predators and are sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, hence the name surgeonfish. Here are a few of the Tangs you might see on our Hawaiian Reefs.
The Yellow Tang is a popular and frequently spotted fish in during your Maui snorkeling. This fish was a co-star in the first “Finding Nemo”! The Hawaiian name for the Yellow Tang is Lau’ipala, means “yellowed ti leaf”.
The Orangeshoulder Tang is also know as the Orangeband Surgeonfish. It’s noticeable with it’s bright orange stripe along it’s side. The Hawaiian names is Na`e-na`e.
The Unicorn Tang are named for the little horn their forehead. We don’t know the function of the horn, but how lucky are they to be like a Unicorn! The Hawaiian name for the Unicorn Tang is Kala, which means “thorn”.
The Convict Tang is an abundant member of Tang family and spotted all over while snorkeling on Maui. It is pale light body and black vertical bars that run from the base of the dorsal fin all the way to the belly, you can see why they are called “Convicts”! The Hawaiian name for these Tangs are Manini, which means “small”.
The Achilles Tang is and active and aggressive fish. It will drive away other surgeonfishes that come into its feeding territory. It’s easlily noticeable with it’s bright orange spot back towards it’s tail. The Hawaiian name, Paku’iku’i. It’s believed that it refers to a method of fishing in which fish were brought into a net by beating the surface of the water.
The Naso Tang is also know as the Orange-Spine Surgeonfish or Lipstick Tang. This young tang starts more gray and with age the body turns black. A thin, black mask forms between the eyes and mouth, the forehead and lips turn to a yellow color. These fish are very common in Molokini Crater. The Hawaiians call it umaumalei which roughly translates to “chest adorned with a lei.”