When it comes to names, whether fish species or locations, Hawaii has often been able to surprise us. Think about it, “Electric Beach” or “Two Step Beach” are just 2 examples of Hawaiian creativity. Or how about “Sharks Cove” which looks like a shark from an aerial view.
When it comes to Hawaiian reef fish with the longest name(s), the same approach of “describing what you see” can be found within specific species. We’re not native Hawaiians ourselves, but counting letters and punctuation marks is something we manage.
The Winner is: Lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi
With a total of 23 letters and 2 “Okina markings”, Lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi is the longest Hawaiian fish name as of today. If you didn’t know, Okina markings help you to pronounce certain Hawaiian words. You’ll find them in between vowels and result in a short break whilst spelling.
Lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi refers to 2 types of longnose butterflyfish: Forcipiger flavissimus and Forcipiger longirostris. Here’s how they both look like (they’re very similar):
Forcipiger flavissimus and Forcipiger longirostris have both earned their “long nosed butterflyfish” names as you can see from the pictures above. F. longirostris has a somewhat longer snout and occasionally shows a more brownish color in stead of the yellow (they even exist in full black).
Lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi are monogamous fish. Once they find a partner they stick together for life. Together they protect their home (territory) and raise their kids. As a result, snorkelers will often be able to observe them in pairs along the Hawaiian islands.
Close Second: Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa
With 21 letters and one Okina marking, the Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa is a close second when it comes to long fish names. This fish species goes by various names but is commonly known as the Hawaiian reef triggerfish.
If you’re curious, we share more information about reef triggerfish in this list of typical Hawaiian reef fish. Snorkelers are often familiar with this fish species, even though there are similar looking types to know about (like the Picasso triggerfish for example). They usually grow up to about 10 inches in length and prefer the deeper areas near rocky reefs. Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa are very territorial.
Since Okina markings (the apostrophes) are seen as full letters in Hawaiian language, Lauwiliwilinukunukuʻoiʻoi is the longest fish name with a total of 25 characters. Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa comes close with a total of 22 characters.