photo: Larry Winnik

Chrysiptera taupou Jordan & Seale, 1906
    Bright blue damselfishes like this are so common on most tropical Indo-Pacific reefs they are scarcely noticed. In Hawai`i, however, fishes of this color are unknown and the appearance of this fish in shallow water at Hanauma Bay, O`ahu, in December 2002 caused quite a stir. It was even written up in a Susan Scott's Ocean Watch newspaper column. It has since disappeared.
    Was this blue beauty a waif, or the result of an aquarium release? Most likely the latter, as another individual of the same species was seen by Matthew Parry in 2004 at He`eia Small Boat Harbor in Kane`ohe Bay, where other released fish species (such as a Lemonpeel Angel) have been seen. This species' natural home—the southwestern Pacific islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa—is probably too far from Hawai`i for it to have arrived here naturally. It and others like it, though, are common in the aquarium trade, generally sold under the name "Blue Devil." It's a good name: they can be extremely aggressive toward other tankmates, causing havoc in an otherwise peaceful aquarium. It is quite possible, therefore, that a frustrated aquarist released one or more of these fish somewhere on O`ahu. (It seems unlikely it would have been Hanauma Bay itself because of the nature preserve's strict security.) If so, the species may succeed in establishing itself here, or it may die out. The fact that two have been seen on different sides of O`ahu and almost two years apart suggests that it might be reproducing here, but all sightings to date have been of apparently lone individuals. If you see one, email me! The photo above was taken by Larry Winnik in Hanauma Bay, O`ahu, at a depth of about. 3 ft.

Update: 10-03-06. Another lone individual has been spotted in Kewalo Basin - This one can be easily seen from shore.

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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover