Turkeyfish | Hawiian Marine Life

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Hawaiian Turkeyfish

The Hawaiian turkeyfish (also known as Hawaiian lionfish) is a member of the scorpionfish family and can grow up to 8 inches long. There are roughly 25 species of scorpionfish that inhabit Hawaiian waters, and the Hawaiian turkeyfish is the only endemic species within the scorpionfish family.


The Hawaiian turkeyfish is found at depths of 9 to 400 feet and are occasionally spotted by a lucky daytime diver swimming in open waters during late afternoons or early mornings. These fish are nocturnal hunters who prey on crustaceans and small fish. As skilled ambush predators, they corner prey with their large fins and have a lightning-fast gulp reflex, much like the frogfish. During the day, this fish stays in caves under ledges, often upside down. Due to their venomous spines, it is never recommended to reach into underwater crevices or caves as one of these animals may be lurking in the area.

Did you know?

Hawaiian turkeyfish is a dramatic reddish-brown specimen with vertical white stripes, a long single dorsal spine, and extended spines on the pectoral fins. Its spines are venomous and can deliver a painful sting.

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

Hawaiian Name: nohu pinao
Scientific Name: Pterois sphex
Where to Find: Shallow 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.