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Snorkeling with with schools of colorful, tropical fish and green sea turtles is one of the top goal of any Hawaiian ocean adventure. One of the best ways to prepare for snorkeling in Hawaii is to check out the kinds of fish you’re likely to see in the ocean, before you arrive.

It’s equally important to reserve custom-fit, “dry-mouth” snorkels in advance of your trip. Quality snorkels will keep water out of your mouth automatically, and provide superior safety and comfort in the water.

By preparing for your Hawaii trip in advance, you’ll create memories that will last a

lifetime.

Ornate Butterfly (Kikakapu)

The Ornate Butterfly Fish comes from the Chaetodontidae family of reef fish. For a number of reasons, this fish is considered one of the most beautiful fish in Hawaii. You can easily spot the Ornate Butterfly by its six orange diagonal stripes  on both sides of its body. These particular reef fish can grow up to eight inches in length, however, most adults are anywhere from five to six inches.

If you’re lucky enough to see an Ornate Butterfly close-up, you’ll notice it has beautiful facial features. When you’re snorkeling, pay close attention to its magnificent black and yellow bars on its the face and a shiny gray patch on its forehead.

Ornate Butterfly’s eat live coral polyps, making coral-rich areas perfect spots to catch a glimpse. Their favorite kind of coral polyps is the Pocillopora meandrina. The Ornate Butterfly is also known to favor Montipora genera in other places than Hawaii.


Threadfin Butterfly (Lau Hau)

Threadfin Butterfly fish are one of the more popular butterfly fish, especially for saltwater tank enthusiasts. This beautiful fish is found in Hawaii, Indonesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Tonga and loves to hang out to hang out on inner and outer reef slopes. While snorkeling this fish is sometimes hard to spot due to their shy nature. They love to hide behind rocks and coral!

Theadfins come from the Chaetodontidae and can grow up to a maximum of 8 inches. As with many tropical fish, the Threadfin Butterfly’s color and markings vary with the region of origin. Threadfins living in the Red Sea lack the eyespots on the dorsal fin.

Yellow Longnose Butterfly (Lau Wiliwili-Nukunuku-Oioi)

Properly called the “Forcipiger Flavissimus” you might recognize this fish as the Yellow Longnose Butterfly fish or Forceps Fish. Found mostly in the Indo-Pacific region, you’ll find this bright yellow fish hanging out on Reef flats solo as well as in schools.

What makes this fish so special is its long snout that looks like a pair of needle nose pliers! The evolution of the Yellow Longnose Butterfly fish’s snout made it perfect for picking food out of crevices or between coral.

The Yellow Longnose Butterfly’s are carnivorous and will eat a variety of animals in the wild. Its main diet consists of the tube feet of echinoderms, polychaete tentacles, and the pedicellaria (the jaw-like structure) of sea urchins. It’s also been know to eat fish eggs, small crustaceans and hydroids on occasion.

Raccoon Butterfly (Kikakapu Kapuhili)

It’s a Raccoon Butterfish! Mostly found in Indo-Pacific and Southeast Atlantic areas, the Raccoon Butterfly fish is mostly a nocturnal species and usually hangs out in pairs or small groups. The Raccoon Butterfly fish is yellowish-orange complexion, with it’s upper half being significantly darker than the bottom. The name came from its black patches around its eyes resembling land Raccoon’s.

For a reef fish, Raccoon Butterfly fish can grow to be fairly large. The largest recorded was 7.9 inches! In the wild, they mostly eat tubeworm tentacles, nudibranchs and other benthic invertebrates. While snorkeling you might also catch these guys munching on algae or coral polyps.

Teardrop Butterfly (Kika Kapulauhau)

Also known as a “One Spot Butterfly”, the Tear Drop Butterfly fish is a beautiful tropical fish originating from the reefs of the Indo-Pacific. Part of the Chaetodontidae family, the unique features of the Tear Drop Butterfly fish make it particularly desirable among tropical fish collectors and enthusiasts.

What makes this fish special is its beautiful black teardrop marking that streaks down the upper right side of the body. The main part of their body is a white color that transitions into a beautiful yellow. When snorkeling pay close attention to its black bar that runs right through the eyes. It’s really amazing to look at.

Tear Drop Butterfly fish are known to be quite the swimmers. Adults can be seen at depths ranging anywhere from 3 feet to 180 feet.

Bluestripe Butterfly
(Lau Hau)

The bluestripe butterfly fish is a rare species found only in the Hawaiian Islands! The adorable bluestripe butterfly fish come from the Chaetodontidae family and are usually found at depths of less than 60 feet. However, some recent discoveries have found them living at over 600 feet! Butterfly fish are perhaps the most recognizable of reef fish because of their 8 diagonal bright blue stripes that run diagonally across the whole body.

To find these guys while snorkeling in Maui you might try looking around shallow reef and rocky shores. They especially like patches of sand and the smooth sea floor between boulders and coral.

Fourspot Butterfly (Lau Hau)

The Fourspot Butterfly can grow up to 7” and is a pretty shy species. If the fish is frightened it will dart from place to place so try and give them space. The Fourspot Butterfly fish is found throughout the Pacific Ocean. You will notice two white spots surrounded in black on the upper half of its body on each side. The bottom half is yellow with small black dots. The tail is yellowish with another white dot where the tail and body connect. There is a white streak the runs in along the dorsal and bottom rear fin.

The species of fish feeds small polyped stony corals, particularly Pocillopora. They are seen through out the Hawaiian Islands.

Rainbow Butterfly
(Lau Hau)

The Rainbow Butterfly fish may be the most beautiful of the butterfly fish, with a wide range of colors as it name suggests. The Rainbow Butterfly fish is found in the tropical waters of the Indio-Western Pacific. These fish are usually found in depths of less then 65ft.

The Rainbow Butterfly fish is orange near the lower fin as well as at the first section of the tail. The bottom half of the fish is yellow, but the yellow fades to a blueish purple tint towards the top of the fish and dorsal fin. There is a distinct pattern of stripes along the length of the body of the fish. Although the there is not every color of the rainbow, this may be the closest thing in the wild kingdom. This fish also features a black strip across its eyes that really stands out.

Lemon “Millesteed” Butterfly
(Lau Wiliwili)

The Lemon Butterfly fish has quit a few names. It also is known as the Milletseed Butterfly fish or Millet Butterfly fish.

The Lemon Butterflyfish is mainly yellow with many dark spots on its sides forming vertical stripes. It has a black bar through the eyes. There is also a distinct black section where the tail fin and main body meet.

Potter’s Angelfish

The Potter’s Angelfish (also known as Potter’s Pygmy Angelfish) is native to the Hawaiian Islands. The body is a fantastic orange with pale blue features. The dark area is larger in males than in females, making them easy to distinguish in the ocean. The caudal portions of the dorsal and rear bottom fins as well as the caudal fin are a dark blue-black. Potter’s Angels live in pairs or in groups with one male and several females, usually in clear water at depths of 10-150 ft.

The Potter’s Angelfish is known to show up at cleaning stations where fish eat algae off of green sea turtles as well as other larger fish. There is a really cool cleaning station you can easily get to in a Kayak off of Olowalu beach on Maui. There are also a few snorkel tour operators who will take visitors to various cleaning stations through out the islands.

Yellow-tail Wrasse “Coris” (Lolo)

This Beautiful fish, The Yellowtail Wrasse averages around 14 in length. They are known for being really adept at rolling rocks and coral over to find food. This fish has two prominent teeth in the front of both the top and lower jaw that are used for feeding on its favorite prey: snails, hermit crabs, crabs, shrimps, mollusks, and sea urchins.

The Yellowtail Wrasse bury themselves in the sand during the night so they are rarely seen, if ever, during night dives. This fish is really common in the coral gardens of the upper west side of Maui.

Saddle Wrasse (Hinalea Lauwili)

The Saddle Wrasse is the most abundant reef fish in the Hawaiian Islands. The Saddle Wrasse gets its name from the red saddle right behind its pectoral fin. This fish has the ability to change sexes and has different color patterns for different stages of life.

There are 43 different fish in the Wrasse family and 13 of these are native to Hawaiian waters. Snorkelers will often see these fish following them. It is believed the Wrasse is looking for feeding opportunities from the disturbances caused by the motion of the snorkeler in the water.

Ornate Wrasse (Pa’awela)

The head of the Ornate Wrasse is red marked with borderline phosphorescent green lines; The bottom of the fish is blue, especially the belly. The scales are marked by a vertical, crescent-shaped stripe followed by blue. An easy way to identify the Ornate Wrasse when snorkeling is to look for the black spots right behind its eyes.

The Ornate Wrasse is really common in Hawaiian waters. Like their relatives in the wrasse family, they bury themselves under the sand if threatened as well as when sleeping at night. These fish feed on small crustaceans and invertebrates. The Ornate Wrasse averages around 7 in. length.

Juvenile Yellow-tail Wrasse (Lolo)

The Yellow-Tail Wrasse is one of the easiest of the Wrasse family to identify. They have 3-4 four white spots surrounded in black spaced along the upper part of their body. With their bodies being in rich red color, the spots really pop and catch your eye. Like all Wrasse they live in small groups or as pairs. They are able to change their sex based on various circumstances where it will help with survival of the specials.

It’s not uncommon for a female Wrasse to become a male if her group of fish she is surrounded by is largely female. This ability to change its sex is one of the reasons the Wrasse is the most common Reef fish in Hawaii someone will see when snorkeling.

Pennant Fish or Banner Fish (Kihi Kihi)

The Pennant Fish has a supper cool dorsal fin that extends for distance. It almost looks like an extra tail. These fish are black and white with yellow tails as well bottom fins. They mostly survive off of eating plankton.

The Pennant fish is incredible social and is even seen in schools of 30 or more. This fish is pretty mellow and not territorial at all. When snorkeling this is one of the coolest fish to see because they are often time cleaner fish when they are young. They spend their days eating algae off of larger fish and the occasional Turtle.

Moorish Idol
(Kihi Kihi)

The Moorish Idol as a crescent disc like body with a long dorsal fin similar to the Pennant Fish. With distinct black and white colors make the Moorish Idol popular with aquarium owners. Moorish Idols can grow close to 10”The older they get the less prominent their long dorsal fin becomes.

This fish is often seen alone as adults. When they are young they tend to hang out in pairs or in small schools. They tend to enjoy the shallow waters but can be found up to depths close to 600 ft. They tend to like flat reef systems over complex coral and rocky outcroppings.

Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse (Hinalea)

The Hawaiian Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse usually hangs out in pairs at cleaner stations where it stays busy cleaning other fish. The benefit for the Rainbow Wrasse is that it gets a free meal of mucus and algae from the host fish it is cleaning. Yummy!

Similar to other fish found on the Reefs in Hawaii, this fish can change its sex to adapt to the best mating conditions. This fish is relatively small maxing out in full maturity at fewer than 5 inches in length. The Hawaiian Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse as a beautiful black stripe that runs the length of its body out lined in a vibrant pink color. Due to its unique markings, this fish is easy to spot. A really beautiful fish that is native to Hawaiian waters.

Bird Wrasse (Hinalea I Iwi)

The Bird Wrasse is the arguably the easiest fish to identify due to its long beak like snout. The Bird Wrasse uses the its long snot to capture long skinny pry it breaks apart into smaller bite sized pieces. The Females are a brownish black with the males in different variations of green.

The Bird Wrasse grows to close to 11-12″ in length. Like other Wrasses this fish can change sexes to adapt to the best breeding environment. Often times a single male will mate with a large harem of females. At a certain point one of the females will change into a male a start a harem of his/her own.

Rectangular Triggerfish (Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua’a)

The Rectangular Triggerfish is known in Hawaii as the Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua’a. The Rectangular Triggerfish is Hawaii’s state fish! There are over 40 species of Triggerfish that inhabit tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world. The Average size is between 8-20 inches.

The Rectangular Triggerfish makes a snorting sound similar to a pig when it is cornered or under stress. It also appears the fish uses its vocalization to warn other fish of impeding danger. The Rectangular Triggerfish has some cool tools to use us when approached by predators. The Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua’a can erect its dorsal spines sort of like a “trigger”. It is said that is where the family name “triggerfish” comes from.

Picasso Triggerfish

This Fish shares the same name as the Hawaii State fish, The Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua’a. However it is also called by the following names:  lagoon triggerfish, blackbar triggerfish, the Picassofish, and the Jamal triggerfish. It’s unclear why this fish has so many names, but perhaps its because you can find it throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

The Picasso Triggerfish is a pretty aggressive fish. Especially if it is protecting eggs during mating season. Both males and females will take turns protecting the offspring. It’s not uncommon for the Picasso Triggerfish to chase the occasional snorkeler in a aggressive manner in in protective mode. However, there is little danger due to their small size. They are usually less then 12.

White-Spotted Damsel (Alo’ilo’i)

The White-Spotted Damsel is an fish which makes it popular for the aquarium trade. They are easy to spot with their distinctive white spot on each side of their body. As can be seen in the picture the rest of their coloration is blackish blue.

It’s stunning to see large schools of White-Spotted Damsels moving up and down in unison as if catching a ride on the same elevator. In Hawaii you will often see the schools of the young fish hanging out atop a coral head.″

Hogfish (‘A ‘Awa)

The Hogfish gets its name for the way its uses its long snot to use to search out crustaceans on the sandy sea floor, Similar to the way a Pig roots through mud searching for a morsel of something yummy.

The Hogfish is part of the Wrasse family, so if you have read above you will find the Wrasse family has some really interesting characteristics. The main characteristic is the ability to change sexes in order to adapt to the best breading circumstances.

The real question is does the hogfish taste like bacon?

Pinktail Triggerfish 

The Pinktail Triggerfish can grow up to 16 inches, making it one of the larger triggerfish in the family. Like other triggerfish it has a unique vocalization capabilities it uses when it is threatened or agitated. This fish can be aggressive at times similar to other tirgger fish, if protecting unhatched eggs during mating season.

Portuguese Man-O- War (Pololia and Pa’i Malau)

The Portuguese Man-O- War is a really interesting organism. All though it looks very similar to a regular jellyfish, which is a single organism, The Portuguese Man-O- War is actually made up of multiple organisms called zooids. Each of these Zooids has individual functions that together make up a collective organism that is physiologically incapable of independent survival.

The Portuguese Man-O- War uses the trade winds to travel and from time to time blows into the near shore areas of the Hawaiian islands. Please use caution and avoid contact with these curious dangerous creatures. The Portuguese Man-O- War has venomous tentacles can deliver a powerful sting even when appearing dead after being washed up on the shore. It is rare to find just one Portuguese Man-O- War, if one is spotted it is likely there are many more.

Fortunately, it is uncommon for snorkelers on Maui to be stung on a regular basis.

Flying Fish (Malolo)

The Flying fish can travel in the air flying for up to 40 seconds while traveling a distance of 1300 ft. or so. Sailors and watermen throughout Hawaii, have always marveled at their incredible ability to avoid their sea bond predators like the Mahi Mahi, Dolphin, Ahi (tuna) and Billfish.

On occasions people have witnessed flying fish escaping its chasing underwater predator, only to fall victim to an agile sea bird with a taste for fish. Talk about being on the wrong end of the food chain. Either way, the feet of the Flying Fish are worthy of our admiration and are a truly beautiful site to see. If you happen to take a snorkel tour our sunset sail your chances of seeing a flying fish are pretty good.

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtles are found throughout the Hawaiian Islands and in many of the world’s oceans. They’ve been known to travel as far as 1600 miles to reach their nesting grounds.

After being labeled a endangered species, conservation efforts have allowed green sea turtle populations to make a comeback.

Maui is known for having some large nesting grounds in Hawaii. If you have a chance, explore Kealai pond on South Maui, at Sugar Beach. This area has been set aside as a preserve for both nesting sea turtles and sea birds.


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Ghost Crab

The Ghost Crab enjoys digging into the sand to and create chambers to escape the hottest part of the day when the Hawaiian sun is at its highest point in the sky. Ghost Crabs tend to be more active at night and feed a wide range of debris as well as the occasional turtle hatchling.

Although the Ghost Crab spends a fair amount of time on the beach, they always return to the ocean to lay their eggs. The Ghost grab is known for scurrying across the sand surprisingly quickly, in spite of its relative small size.


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Sea Lettuce

Sea Lettuce is an edible green algae often found on the rocky coastlines of the Hawaiian islands. In fact, sea lettuce can be found throughout the world’s oceans. Many cultures have a history of consuming Sea lettuce with it being a consistent part of their diet.

Sea Lettuce is high in soluble fiber, protein and diverse range of vitamins and minerals. Sea grace is a great source of iron.


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Rock Boring Sea Urchin

The Hawaiian Rock Boring Sea Urchin lives in the shallow shore break zone along the coast of the Hawaiian islands. They usually make their home under rocks and corals heads or along a rocky.

These Sea urchins play an important painful reminder that one shouldn’t step on coral for more than a couple reasons. One, stepping on Coral actually can damage and kill the delicate coral and two, if you’re unfortunate enough to land squarely on a sea urchin, you will be in poor spirits for at least a couple days. Always use caution when entering and exiting the ocean.


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State Stencil Sea Urchin

Just like the Urchin mentioned above the State Stencil Sea Urchin is no fun to walk on. So please caution when walking on rocky surfaces when entering and exiting the ocean. Never walk on coral, its causes damage to the fragile creates and increases your chance to stepping on an Urchin.

Sea Urchin’s are being used in a Hawaii as a way to combat the overgrowth of some invasive algae that are known for swallowing up entire Reef Systems.

Scientists place baby Urchins gently on the reef and let them do what comes naturally. It turns out the Urchins love the algae as a food source so everyone wins. The Urchins get sustenance, which in turn helps the reef stay healthy thus more fish can be born to seed even more reefs. The best example of this is at Kaneao Bay on the island of Oahu.


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Spiny Lobster

Spiny Lobsters differ from their popular Main Lobster counterparts in the fact that they don’t have huge claws. There are 3 different species of Spiny lobster found in Hawaii. They are pretty similar and tend to found in the same areas.

Although Spiny lobsters have been a delicacy in Hawaii for a long time, due to declining numbers there no more commercial fishing for them. The only way to get a spiny lobster is to catch on with your hands or know someone who can. You’re not allowed to spear them and all fishing is completely off limits during their peak reproductive periods: May through August. Spiny Lobster are rarely seen during the day as they tend to enjoy relaxing in little caves found in reefs as well as rocking outcroppings. The Spiny lobster hunts and scavenges at night.

Slipper Lobster (Ula-papapa)

The Slipper Lobster is easy to recognize with its two large intinia the protrude forward. Like their cousins the Spiny lobster, Slipper Lobsters don’t have large claws. Like all lobsters, the Slipper lobster is a scavenger. There is pretty much nothing this insect of the ocean won’t eat.

The Slipper lobster averages around 7” in Hawaii but it does have cousins in other parts of the world that reach up to 20”. Unlike other lobster that tend to be pretty shy hiding in the caves and cracks of the Reef, The Slipper lobster is known for being more bold hanging out right on tip. Due to their coloration and flat shape Slipper lobsters are hard to see.

Spanish Dancer

The Spanish Dancer is actually a sea slug that occasionally uses its body when threatened or agitated to use its body to propel itself through the water. When moving its skirts wave in a similar fashion as the dress of a flamenco dancer. Thus the name: Spanish Dancer. This variety of sea slugs are also called “Nudies”. Most are smaller than an inch but The Hawaiian Spanish dancer can reach up 15” making the largest in the world of its species. Nudies differ from other sea slugs in that they lose their hard shell when they reach adulthood.

One interesting thing about the Spanish Dancer: two tiny shrimp often live in its gills in a symbiotic relationship. The Shrimp get to eat tiny morsels of leftover food and the Spanish Dancer receives a diligent cleaning of its gills every day.


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Feather Duster Worm

The Hawaiian Feather duster worm lives on rocks and hard surfaces on the seafloor in the tidal zone. The worm uses sand, and other available supplies to create a rock-like base, bound by secreted calcium carbonate.

The Feather duster worm can reach up 7” in diameter. When threatened it quickly recoils inside its protective home. In certain cases, when severely bothered, the Hawaiian Feather duster will discard its fan and regrow another—similar to how a lizard sacrafices its tail.


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White Mouth Eel

The White Mouth Eel is part of the Moray eel family of which there are about 200 species. Like other Eels, the White mouth lacks a pectoral and pelvic fins making it look like a large snake. The White Mouth grows up to 4” in the Hawaiian waters. Eels can grow much larger in other areas of the world—some as large as13ft and nearly 70 lbs.

On occasion Moray Eels are known to part take in cooperative hunting with roving coral grouper, making it the only known cooperative hunting done by fish. The Morey’s ability to slither through small cracks is a huge advantage to the Groupers who waits to capture the startled pry. The Moray Eel is a secretive shy fish that would rather retreat then deal with humans but on occasion morey are known to attack in self defense. Due to their extremely sharp teeth and lighting fast jaws please do not provoke these fish when snorkeling.


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Antler Coral

Antler Coral is one of the largest groups of corals growing in the world’s oceans, making up about 35% of the coral mass on the entire planet. Like other branching Corals Antler Coral gets its name for the shape the Coral grows.

Antler Coral is on the first Coral to arrive and start populating a new location. Although very hardy in the ocean compared to other Corals, wild Antler corals don’t tend to well in aquarium setting.


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Wire Coral Goby

The Wire Goby is a really cute little fish that hangs out on Wire Coral. The Wire Goby is part of one of the largest species of fish in the ocean with over 200 relatives. Although the Goby is one of the largest species of fish, on average the Gaby family is usually rather small.

The Wire Goby spends it time waiting for the occasion meal to swim past the coral head or coral antler it has laid claim to. The Wire Goby eats mostly small invertebrates and zooplankton.


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Wire Coral

Wire Coral tend to grow in deep waters along rocky outcroppings or ledges. They can grow up to 4ft in length. They will often will often grow in ringlets creating a cool spiraling appearance. At other times they will grow straight up from the sea floor.

The Wire coral is one of the fastest growing Corals in the sea. As can be seen in the information above about the wire Goby, even though they are relatively small in size compared to some other soft Coral species.


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Orange Tube Coral

Orange Tube Coral is a large stone polyp Coral. From the the photo you can see this coral gets its name from its coloration. These relatively large coral, fare very ragile creatures.

The Orange Tube Coral tends to grow at the edge of the reef system on distinct on slopes. Unlike a lot of other Corals, The Orange Tube Coral does not have symbiotic algae living within it. All of this Coral’s nutrients must be found in its surrounding environment.


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Finger Coral

Finger Coral is a species of Stony Coral called Porites. This coral is known for its finger like growths. This particular coral is relatively sensitive to its environment, making it hard to grow in the aquarium trade and best see on display in its natural environment.

The Finger Coral is commonly inhabited by the Christmas Tree Worm. These worms find a symbiotic relationship existence in the undersea world by boring into Finger Corals and creating a home of their own while feeding off the surrounding nutrients.


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Crown of Thorns

The Crown of the Thorns is one of the largest multi-armed starfish in the world’s oceans. They are found throughout the Indo-Pacific as well as east Africa, and the west coast of Central America. The Crowns of thorns actually has venom stored in the spins that cover its upper surface. The Crown of Thorns usually preys on hard stony coral (polyps).

Large adult crown-of-thorns average around 9 to 14 inches in circumference and have up to 21 unique arms. The thorns are really sharp so please don’t touch them. In addition never take this delicate creature out of the water as its body mass will collapse under its own weight. They are really beautiful creatures when seen in their natural environment.


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Black Sea Cucumber

The Black Sea Cucumber is also known as the Holothuria Atra or Lolly Fish. The average Black Sea Cucumber grows to around 8 or 9 inches, however some can grow as large as 24 inches. As their namesake suggest they are black in color and pretty much shaped like a sausage of some sorts.

The Sea cucumber is an amazing survivor being able to digest the biofilm on sand as energy source. The Black Sea Cucumber basically spends its time looking for tasty organic morals on the sediment. In turn all the other organisms get a cleaner sea floor.


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Flounder

The Hawaiian name for the founder is Pak’i’i. The flounder is part of the flatfish family. These fish are oval in shape and flat with both of their eyes on the top half of their body. Most fish have one eye equally centered on both sides of their body at the front of their face.

Laying flat on the surface allows the flounder to have a pretty good defense against predation. The Flounder has a yellowish underside with brown and flowering like blue spots. As juveniles the Flowery Flounder is totally symmetrical like most fish with its eyes centered. As it grows the eyes move to the left side of its body.


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Octopus

The Hawaiian name for Octopus is He’e. Octopi like to hang out in caves and rock outcroppings along the reef, as well as in the deep abyss. This is one of the smartest creates living in the ocean, which explains why they have adapted to virtually every habitat in the worlds oceans.

The Octopi have a variety of defense mechanisms, including the ability to change color and an ink jet that will disperse when they feel threatened. Octopi are known to be good problem solvers and have shown a clear ability to show advanced cognitive function.

In Hawaii, people often spear-fish for Octopi. A common way to prepare octopus in Hawaii is slightly boiled, cut up into small pieces and served with soy sauce, chili peppers and other spices. Locals refer to this dish as “Octopus Taco”.


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Lizard Fish

16 of the 50 species of Lizard Fish are found in Hawaiian waters. The Lizard Fish’s brownish color is a good camouflage, blending in easily with the sandy ocean floor. The Hawaiian name for the Lizard Fish is ‘Ulae.

These fish are crafty hunters. Their eyes are position on the top of their head in such a way they can bury themselves in the sand while keeping their eyes exposed as they wait for unsuspecting prey. The ‘Ulae can easy catch anything of the right size that approaches within 5 to 6 ft. of its hiding place. In addition to the “ulae stealthiness they are known to have some nasty teeth. Even their tongue is lined with small, sharp teeth. Once the ‘Ulae grabs hold of its prey it is said it never lets it go.


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Sea Star

Sea Star’s used to be called Starfish but recently have been referred to as Sea stars because they are not a fish at all. Sea Stars are related to Sea Cucumbers and Urchins. Throughout the world’s oceans there at least 1,800 species of Sea stars, however only about 20 thrive in Hawaiian waters.

Sea stars are both predators and scavengers. There mouths are on the bottom of their bodies and they use their arms to crawl across the coral or ocean floor. As more people are starting to study Sea stars they are noticing they have a wide range of physical characteristics. For example did you know they can regrow their arms? They can expel their stomachs out of their body to catch food and they can reproduce by offering up a severed limb.


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Porites Rus

The Porites Rus species of coral is found more abundantly outside of the surf zone in Hawaiian waters. These corals tend to grow in a variety of shapes. This is a stony coral that often has Christmas Tree Worms living with it in a symbiotic relationship.

Thank you for taking the time to discover Hawaii’s unique marine life. When recreating in the ocean, please always remember to use reef-safe, turtle safe, mineral based sunscreen. Through awareness and stewardship we can work together to preserve Hawaii’s precious ecosystem for generations.

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