Oplegnathus fasciatus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1844)
     Unmistakable, this fish is marked with five dark vertical bars on a grayish body. The bars may fade in large adults. It is so rare in the main Hawaiian Islands, that TInker's venerable book Fishes of Hawaii states 'The only specimen known from Hawaii...was reported by Dr. Franz Steindachner in a paper published in Vienna in 1893. No one has seen a specimen since; perhaps he got his labels mixed." Nevertheless, Dan Dickey and I once saw one just outside the reef at Hanauma Bay among some snorkelers who doubtless had no idea what they were seeing. Naturally my camera was not working. Dan has seen it again couple of times, once swimming right over the top of the reef at high tide. The species becomes more abundant toward the north of the Hawaiian chain. At Midway it is not uncommon. To almost 3 ft. Photo: Midway Island, 40 ft. See also Spotted Knifejaw

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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover