Antennarius drombus Jordan & Evermann, 1903
    Few divers realize that Hawai`i has an endemic frogfish. Small, uncommon, and well camouflaged, it is rarely encountered. I had never seen one myself until Norton Chan of the Waikiki Aquarium asked me if I would like to photograph an unusual frogfish that local diver-biologist Javier Mendez had donated to the Aquarium. Norton identified it--using Tinker's "Fishes of Hawaii" (1978) and Pietsch & Grobecker''s "Frogfishes of the World" (1987)--as the Scarlet Frogfish, Antennarius coccineus. Except for one detail he was correct: After those books were published, Dr. John E. Randall of the Bishop Museum reclassified the Hawaiian "Scarlet Frogfish" as an endemic species under the name Antennarius drombus. This is the name originally given to it in 1903 by ichthyologists David Starr Jordan and Barton Evermann, who worked in Hawai`i around the turn of the century. Subsequently, Pietsch and Grobecker (who perhaps didn't look carefully enough at Hawaiian specimens) had lumped the two very similar species together in their book under the older name coccineus. The main physical difference between drombus and coccineus lies in the number of rays in the pectoral fin: drombus has 12 whereas coccineus (found in the rest of the Indo-Pacific) has 10. The Hawaiian Freckled Frogfish varies from brown to reddish brown or gray, usually with small dark splotches (the freckles), especially visible on the fins. It attains about 4 1/2 inches. Javier Mendez collected his specimen at the Lanai Lookout "2nd reef" at about 30 ft. I photographed it at the Waikiki Aquarium.
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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover