Exotic Fish Sighted At Hanauma Bay

Some of our very own Reef Watch Waikiki volunteers, who snorkel at Hanauma Bay quite frequently, have been seeing a fish that all of us have been curious about.  As always, we encourage you to send us your photos and questions!  None of us could find a positive ID in any of our Hawaiian ID resources, but after months of sightings and blurry photos, John Johnson captured a clear image.  Now it makes sense why this fish wasn’t included in Hawaiian ID resources.  This fish is not found in Hawaiian waters.  It’s called a Semicircle Angelfish, or Blue Angelfish, or Koran Angelfish.  And it is the most hardiest of all the angelfishes.  It’s native waters are the Red Sea, East Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.  How it ended up in Hanauma Bay is a mystery.  Lets just hope this angelfish is the only one of its kind here in Hawaii and that it doesn’t interbreed with other species.

Semicircle Angelfish (and Goldring Surgeonfish). Photo by John Johnson

4 Responses to “Exotic Fish Sighted At Hanauma Bay”

  1. Hi Cassidy, Thanks for this post. My swimming buddies at Hanauma Bay, including John Johnson and me, have seen this fish several times and as you stated, have been trying to identify it for months with help from many sources. “Fuzzy” and I tried to find it one day, but it eluded us. I was wondering if anyone else from Reef Watch Waikiki has seen it?

  2. Hi Cassidy,

    Very interesting observation. For sake of clairty though, the common name for this fish is the Koran angelfish (i.e., after the Muslim holy book), not the Korean angelfish. Also, this fish is not normally referred to as a Blue angelfish as that name is usually reserved for a separate, Atlantic species, Holocanthus bermudensis.


  3. Chris’ comment also points out the general problem with common names: 1) they can vary geographically, and 2) the same common name may be used to describe different species in different regions.

  4. There are no naturally occurring “large” angels in Hawaii so I don’t think it is a huge concern as far as inbreeding into the population, but it is interesting. If others happen to make there way into the wild a breeding population could develop.

    As far as the common names I think Koran is widely accepted as the common name for this fish and the tang or surgeon pictured is most commonly referred to as the Kole Tang. I haven’t found much variance in either species common name throughout the US so I think those are pretty widely accepted at least in the aquarium trade, where these fish get most of their popularity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: