Tag Archives: Fish

A group of black triggerfish gather in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii

Black triggerfish

A group of black triggerfish gather in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii
I came across this blob of black triggerfish just floating and weaving idly back and forth. Only the one had the coloration that is a sign of arousal and agitation, though it was drifting about much like the others. I suspect this was some sort of courtship/mating ritual going on, but it was quite ethereal to watch.

A silver hookfish lurks on a head of coral.

Silver hookfish

A silver hookfish lurks on a head of coral.
The silver hookfish is fairly common in coastal waters here. It spends much of its time slowly cruising shallow waters in search of prey, usually much larger fish than itself. On occasion, the silver hookfish will rest for an extended time on a patch of coral or rock as seen here. Sometimes they can even be seen leaping through the air like flying fish.

While humans aren’t their usual prey, curious or gullible people, lured by its glittering appearance, are sometimes snagged by one of the hookfish’s several barbs. This can be a painful experience, sometimes requiring medical treatment.

Silver hookfish are not recommended for human consumption, since they’re extremely tough and may contain concentrations of toxins, which can impair perceptivity.

Square-spot goatfish swim in the waters off the Big Isalnd.

Square-spot goatfish

Square-spot goatfish swim in the waters off the Big Isalnd.
Square-spot goatfish are quite common and most easily distinguished by the square spot in the yellow stripe along their sides. However, the intensity of the square spot changes, darker during feeding, and fading (as with the fish in the photo) or disappearing altogether while resting or schooling. When the spot disappears, square-spot goatfish are hard to distinguish from yellowfin goatfish.

In my attempts to identify what I see in the water, I use John P. Hoover’s book The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.

A spotted coral blenny rests on a piece of coral.

Spotted coral blenny

A spotted coral blenny rests on a piece of coral.
I like blennies. They have the kind of goofy expression I see when I look in a mirror. The spotted coral blenny is considered large for the species, growing to 6 inches long. This one was engaged in typical blenny behavior, sitting motionless on a piece of coral.

In my attempts to identify what I see in the water, I use John P. Hoover’s book The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.

An arc-eye hawfish rests in a head of coral

Arc-eye hawkfish

An arc-eye hawfish rests in a head of coral
It’s a common sight to see an arc-eye hawkfish perched in a head of coral, well assuming you’re in the water that is. If a predator comes along, they slip deeper into the coral for protection.

There are two patterns to these fish. Sometimes they’re paler than this one and have a distinctive white stripe on the side. One study has shown that the lighter fish tend to inhabit slightly deeper water where the coral is spread farther apart. Both patterns have the arc behind the eyes and the blue and red bars on the gill covers.

A cigar wrasse swims among a shoal of convict tang.

One of these fish is not a convict tang

A cigar wrasse swims among a shoal of convict tang.
Shoals of convict tang are common in the near-shore waters of the Big Island and it’s equally common to see a bright yellow female cigar wrasse among them. The theory is that the cigar wrasse uses the cover of the harmless shoal to surprise its prey, a variety of marine invertebrates. Seems like the cigar wrasse’s prey does not have real good eyesight.