Hawaii’s State Fish

Hawaii’s state fish is the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa and is also called the rectangular triggerfish, or Hawaiian triggerfish. This 21 letter name is phonetically pronounced, “who moo who moo new coo new coo ah poo ah ah.” The name Humuhumu (for short) has several meanings but the most simple and commonly known one is “fish with a pig's snout”. When the fish is taken out of water it makes a snorting noise, and actually sounds like a pig. In Hawaiian, the word pua’a means pig. When you translate the name Humuhumunukunukuapua’a it means “fish that comes out of the water and sounds like a pig.”

In 1984 the state Legislature asked the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium to survey the public for choosing a candidate for the official state fish. Through the support of school children who led a campaign with classroom projects, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa was made popular and selected for a five year tenure. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 2006 that lawmakers finally made this fish official. The Humuhumunukunukuapuaa is represented in tourist trinkets, on broadcast commercials, and in a popular song about a little grass shack.

The Hawaiian name for this fish is one of the longest words in the language and it is often joked that the name is longer than the fish. The Humuhumu has a diamond-shaped body and can grow up to 18 inches in length. Its colors are yellow, black and blue, and it has blue fins, lips, and teeth. It lives in the coral reefs of the pacific ocean and feeds on seaweed and/or crustaceans. Another interesting fact about the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, is that at night it sleeps on its side. Also, it is able to jet streams of water from its mouth. This is a neat trick that becomes convenient when it is searching for sand covered crustaceans. This fish also has the ability to fade it's coloration when it feels threatened or is sleeping.