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 Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover

Sample species accounts from Hawaii's Fishes
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

Centropyge potteri (Jordan & Metz, 1912)
     The only truly common angelfishes in Hawai`i, Potter's Angels are rusty orange on the front and back, shading to blackish below, with many irregular vertical grayish to deep blue lines. (Males have more blue.) They are usually seen in clear water at depths of at least 15 feet peering from the coral and darting from one hiding place to the next. On O`ahu, adventuresome snorkelers may glimpse them off the cliffs at Kawaihoa (Portlock) Point, where for some reason they are frequently in the open. Big Island snorkelers can find them at Honaunau or Kealakekua Bay in only a few feet of water. Divers, of course, will see them almost anywhere. A beautiful species, they do well in captivity if given peaceful tankmates and plenty of time to adjust. Like many angelfishes they are slow to begin feeding. Named for Frederick A. Potter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium from its founding in 1903 until 1940. To 5 in. Endemic to Hawai`i. Photo: Magic Island, O`ahu. 30 ft

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.

FANTAIL FILEFISH • `o`ili-'uwi'uwi
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.

Gorgasia hawaiiensis Randall & Chess, 1979
     These strange eels may be seen beyond the reef at about 80 feet at several sites, such as Ke`ei, Kealakekua, or Puako on the Kona Coast, and at Molokini Island off Maui. They live by the thousands along steep sandy slopes, stretching up out of their holes and facing into the current to feed on drifting plankton. When approached, they sink into the sand. Cautious, slow-moving divers, however, can enter a garden of waving eels, along a mysterious slope that beckons temptingly down into the blue abyss. Watch your time and your depth while visiting the garden eels. To about 1.5 ft. Endemic to Hawai`i. Photo: Ke`ei, Hawai`i. 90 ft.

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  Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover