The very first fish I laid eyes on in Hawaii was the reef triggerfish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, or Rhinecanthus rectangulus. One look at him and I knew I was going to love this place. I think it was the blue lipstick at the end of the long, piggish snout that really won my heart, but the whole modern art look they've got going is striking. The nukunuku-ä-pua‘a part of the Hawaiian name indeed translates to "snout like a pig," and it is said that they will grunt when chased or handled, though I myself have not heard them do this. They dine on algae and marine worms, but with powerful jaws like that, you can see that they are well adapted to feeding on the crunchier fare of the ocean floor: crustaceans, sea urchins, and brittle stars. The eyes are set way back on the head, perhaps making it easier for them have a go at sea urchins, and they can also move their eyes independently. They have an interesting way of swimming: the humuhumu ripple their dorsal and anal fins (see video below), which gives them good maneuverability, including the ability to move forward and backward.
The common name of triggerfish name comes from a trigger-shaped dorsal spine on their backs, and their ability to "lock and load." The reef triggerfish actually has two spines, the smaller of which is used to lock the "trigger" spine upright when it has wedged itself into a hole or crevice in self-defense, making it difficult to pull them out. They are also capable of muting their colors and will often do so while sleeping. This solitary fish knows how to lie low, but it won't stop us from admiring their bursts of color and energy that make snorkeling here so much fun.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.