Common Longnose Butterflyfish | Hawaiian Marine Life

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Common Longnose Butterflyfish

The common longnose butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus) is one of two longnose butterflyfish species found in Hawaiʻi. Commonly known as forcepfish, this species is better known by its Hawaiian name, lauwiliwili nukunuku ‘oi‘oi, which is the longest Hawaiian name for a fish. Both species of longnose butterflyfish go by the same Hawaiian name.

 

Lauwiliwili refers to the similarity between the shape of the fish’s body and the wiliwili tree’s leaf, which is oval and turns yellow as it ages. Nukunuku (snout) and ‘oi‘oi (sharp) describe the fish’s narrow, elongated mouth. Together, it loosely translates as “long-snout fish shaped like a wiliwili leaf.” The longnose butterfly fish’s flat-shaped body allows it to quickly maneuver between corals while its sharp spines protect it from predators. Its distinct, beak-like mouth is used to probe corals and reef crevices for small invertebrates and crustaceans and is often used in cleaning stations to remove crustacean parasites from their fellow reef fish.

 

This species can grow up to seven inches in length and is found throughout the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific regions. They are commonly found in shallow water habitats near reef structures, including walls and overhangs.

 

*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, we cannot guarantee the presence of any specific animal.

Did you know?

In 1984, over 55,000 public votes were cast to name the State of Hawaiʻi’s official fish. The lauwiliwili nukunuku ‘oi‘oi finished in third place following a narrow defeat by the manini (convict tang) and a landslide victory by the humuhumunukunukuāpua‘a.

Hawaiian Name: Lauwiliwili nukunuku ‘oi‘oi
Scientific Name: Forcipiger flavissimus
Where to See: Living Reef

share with friends

Discover More Maui Ocean Center marine life

Broad Stingray

The broad stingray is found only in Hawaiʻi and Taiwan. Most researchers agree their populations are plentiful. They are one of four species known to inhabit Hawaiian waters that belong to the suborder elasmobranchs (cartilaginous fishes including sharks, skates, and rays).

Whitetip Reef Shark

The whitetip reef shark is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is associated with the coral reef environment. In the Hawaiian Islands, they can be observed resting in caves or under ledges since they are the only shark in Hawaiian waters with the ability to stop swimming and rest for long periods at a time, making them more commonly observed by divers. These sharks are gray in coloration and have slightly flat heads with distinct white tips on the tops of the first and second dorsal and tail fins.

Cone Snail

The cone snail is one of the largest marine snail families represented in the Hawaiian Islands. Displaying beautiful patterns and colors, they are quite popular with collectors. They are typically active at night, and many spend a great deal of time buried under sand or hiding under plate corals. Cone snail habitats vary for different species; some prefer mangroves or sandy banks, while others prefer much deeper waters to search for other snails and fish. Hawaiʻi has 34 species of cones, with a few species being endemic to the islands.