Monday, November 23, 2009

Big Longnose Butterflyfish

Photos Copyright 2009 by Barry Fackler

This bright little fish is known as lauwiliwili nukunuku 'oi'oi which is the longest of all the Hawaiian fish names. The name translates roughly to "leaf of the wiliwili tree". I never really thought it looked much like a leaf until one day when I saw a yellow leaf rolling in the surge looking just like the fish with the stem resembling the titular long snout.

On the Kona coast, some of these fish undergo an interesting transformation, turning a uniform brown-black shade. Scientists don't think it's related to sex or reproduction. Specimens captured and put in a tank revert to the normal yellow color scheme in a few days.

This color variation is common on the Kona coast but rare in the rest of the Hawaiian Islands as well as throughout the Indo-Pacific. These photos were taken earlier this year in Honaunau Bay.

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