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noun - Humuhumunukunuku─üpua'a is a reef, rectangular or Wedge-tail triggerfish known by its Hawaiian name or just humuhumu for short; meaning "triggerfish with a snout like a pig". Classified as Rhinecanthus rectangulus, it is endemic to the salt water coasts of various central and south Pacific Ocean islands. It is often asserted that the Hawaiian name is one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language and that "the name is longer than the fish."



The triggerfish's teeth are blue and they are set close together inside its relatively chubby mouth, it has a small second spine, which it can use to lock its main spine into an upright position. The triggerfish can wedge itself into small crevices and lock its spine to make it extremely difficult to get out. In addition, when fleeing from predators, the triggerfish will sometimes make grunting noises, possibly a call to warn other nearby triggerfish of danger at hand.

One particularly interesting aspect of the fish's behavior is the ability to blow jets of water from its mouth. These jets help the fish find invertebrates that may be buried under the substrate. Triggerfish can often be seen spitting sand from their mouths in order to sift through the material in search of edible detritus or organisms. Reef triggers are fairly aggressive and will generally not tolerate specific species in its general vicinity, thus the fish is often found solitary. This is particularly true in captivity. Triggers have the remarkable ability to rapidly alter their coloration. They can fade into a relatively drab appearance when sleeping or demonstrating submission while the coloration is often the most vivid when the fish is healthy and unthreatened by its surrounding.


The reef triggerfish is distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and it is especially prominent in the coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii state fish

The reef triggerfish was originally designated the official fish of Hawaii in 1985, but due to an expiration of a Hawaiian state law after five years, it ceased to be the state fish of in 1990. On April 17, 2006, bill HB1982 was presented to the Governor of Hawaii which permanently reinstated the reef triggerfish as the state fish of Hawaii.

The 1933 popular song "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii" included the Hawaiian name in its refrain, and a song of this title was included in the film High School Musical 2 (see below).

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