Oplegnathus punctatus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1844)
Knifejaws are a small family of subtropical
and temperate water fishes with deep, narrow bodies and sometimes striking
color patterns. They are also called "false parrotfishes" because
their teeth are fused into sharp beaks, used to crush molluscs and other
shelled animals. In Hawai`i they they are most common in the northwestern
chain; around the main Hawaiian Islands they are rare. This species has
a bright white snout and dark gray body densely covered with black spots
(most evident on the head and fins). The young are lighter, with more
highly contrasting spots. They shelter in caves and under ledges. This
is the knifejaw most likely to be encountered by divers in the main Hawaiian
Islands. Dan Dickey and I saw this one during the summer of 2000 among
the big boulders under the cable at Pai`olu`olu Point at the entrance
to Hanauma Bay on the right side. It had been there at least a year, because
Dan had seen it the previous summer. Photo: Hanauma Bay, O`ahu. 70 ft.
ft. See also Barred Knifejaw.