Sample species accounts
The fishes on this page are endemic to Hawai`i, they occur nowhere else. About 25% of Hawaii's fish species are endemic!
Text and photos © John P. Hoover
Ctenochaetus strigosus (Bennett, 1828)
The kole has a bright gold ring around the eye. The dark body is marked with many fine horizontal lines, and the mouth is surrounded by blue. In old Hawai`i they were placed under the posts of a new home to ensure good luck. Juveniles are sometimes dull yellow. The species name means "thin" or "meager." The Hawaiian name means "raw" (which was how it was eaten). To 7 in. It has recently been declared endemic to Hawai`i. Similar species elsewhere lack the gold ring or the stripes and juveniles can be bright yellow. Photo: Hanauma Bay, O`ahu. 30 ft.
Pervagor spilosoma (Lay & Bennett, 1839)
In some years abundant, in others only moderately common, Fantail Filefishes are yellow, marked with black spots, and have bright orange, fanlike tails. Blue markings about the mouth and throat further adorn these beautiful little fishes. They frequently pair off in a head-to-tail position, raising and lowering their spines, and spreading their colorful tails in some sort of territorial or sexual display. During years of peak population they die off by the thousands, washing up on beaches. In old Hawai`i this was said to portend the death of a chief; their dry bodies were sometimes used as fuel. If removed from the water they make a small noise, hence the Hawaiian name `uwi'uwi, meaning to squeal. Species name means "spotted." To 7 in. Endemic to Hawai'i. Photo: Lana`i Lookout, O`ahu. 35 ft.
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Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover