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5 Crazy Facts About This Hawaiian Fish Whose Name Is Longer Than It Is! Hawaii

#1 This fish is sometimes called the reef, rectangular, or wedge-tail triggerfish, but it’s Hawaiian name is Humuhumunukunukuapu’a!

Flickr User Bernard Spragg, NZ

Flickr User Bernard Spragg, NZ

Talk about a mouthful! It’s one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language, supposedly. Hawaiians like to joke that the name of the fish is longer than the fish itself!  In general, people shorten the fish’s name to Humuhumu, which is a bit more manageable. The name translates as “triggerfish with a snout like a pig.”

#2 The Humuhumunukunukuapu’a was named the official fish of Hawaii in 1985!

Flickr User Ryan Greenberg

Flickr User Ryan Greenberg

It was the official fish for five years, up until 1990 when the Hawaiian state law expired. Someone somewhere must have been worried about this, because on April 17, 2006, a bill was presented to the governor of Hawaii requesting that the Humuhumunukunukuapu’a be made the permanent state fish of Hawaii. On May 2, 2006, this bill was approved!

#3 This fish can change colors!

Flickr User Matt Malone

Flickr User Matt Malone

The Humuhumunukunukuapu’a is known for it’s bright, beautiful coloration. But, many people don’t know that triggerfish can actually change colors! In fact, they can change colors quite quickly. Their coloration often depends on what they are doing at the time. If the fish is sleeping, or wants to be viewed as submissive, its colors will be muted and dull. But, when the fish is healthy, comfortable, and unthreatened it’s coloration is vibrant.

#4 The Humuhumunukunukuapu’a has two spines.

Flickr User Shane Harder

Flickr User Shane Harder

The Humuhumunukunukuapu’a’s second spine is smaller than its first spine.. You might wonder why this fish needs two spines, when moving through water seems so effortless. Actually, the fish’s two spines aren’t used to help them move faster, but instead as a tool for protecting themselves. The second spine can be used to lock the main spine into an upright position. If the fish feels threatened, one solution is to lodge itself into a small place and lock its spine in place. That way, it is extremely difficult for predators to get to!

#5 The Humuhumunukunukuapu’ a has all sorts of unique traits and habits.

hawaiinaturejournal.weebly.com

hawaiinaturejournal.weebly.com

In addition to it’s brightly colored scales, this fish’s top lip and teeth are blue! It’s mouth is chubby, and it’s teeth are very close together. When trigger fish are fleeing predators, they make grunting noises. One hypothesis suggests that this is to warn other nearby trigger fish of the danger. When searching for food, the Humuhumunukunukuapu’a is often seen blowing jets of water from its mouth and spitting sand as it searches for edible materials. The Humuhumunukunukuapu’a is a rather aggressive fish, and is thus often solitary, especially in captivity.

Cheyenne Reed

Cheyenne Reed was born and raised in Ohio. She recently relocated to rural Wyoming to try out working at an exclusive guest ranch. She graduated from Kent State University with an English degree, and most enjoys writing about travel. If she has free time, you may run into her anywhere, because she is always itching to explore new places. Her personal motto is, "Any day can be an adventure if you make it one!"

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