Paracanthurus hepatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
This bright blue surgeonfish with black marks reminiscent
of an artist's palette is not normally found in Hawaii. However, it is
often imported via the aquarium trade. On the reef, these fish typically
live in groups that aggregate above heads of branching coral. When disturbed,
they all dive in, much like the Hawaiian Dascyllus. Solitary individuals
have been reported a number of times from Oahu and Maui. These have usually
been considered aquarium releases because of their proximity to populated
areas. However, the individual above was found about a mile offshore of
Makua, Oahu, far from the city. It probably drifted in naturally in larval
form and grew to adulthood, sheltering in several large heads of Antler
Coral (Pocillopora eydouxi). Perhaps some of the other Oahu and
Maui fish arrived naturally as well. The species occurs from East Africa
all the way to southern Japan, the Line Islands, and French Polynesia.
Photo: Jason Crowder. Makua, Oahu, 60 ft.