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Fishwatching on Maui

Displayed here are some of the commonly seen inshore fishes and invertebrates of Maui. The photographs were taken at six popular snorkeling sites: Honolua Bay, Kapalua Bay, Olowalu, Ulua Beach, 'Ahihi-kina'u Natural Area Preserve and Molokini Crater. Although a few of the most recent photographs were taken from the surface, most were taken while I was free-diving at those sites. Nonetheless, all of the subjects were in easy view of non-free-diving snorkelers.

Most of the photographs were taken during two five-month sabbatical leaves-- in 1985 and 1992. All of those were taken during free-diving, with a Nikonos V camera and a single strobe light. I continued to use the Nikonos on short (one- or two-week) stays on Maui through the 1990s. Then I switched to a small, relatively inexpensive and more easily maintained digital camera (SeaLife ReefMaster). Since 2010, I have used a Canon D10.

It is instructive to compare the photographs here with those in John E. Randall's Guide to HAWAIIAN REEF FISHES . For fish identification, the principal lesson to be learned from that comparison is this: do not depend entirely on color. In some species, color can vary markedly from individual to individual, or in one individual from one time to another. Look carefully at shape and pattern. Compare, for example, the photograph of the adult Orange-band Surgeonfish to that of the juvenile, or the photograph of the daytime Moorish Idol to that of the night-time version.


Butterflyfish       Surgeonfish         Moorish Idol         Jacks and silver schools         Goatfish         Triggerfish                 Filefish         Pufferfish         Fish that like caves         Cornetfish & Trumpetfish         Miscellaneous fish         Hawkfish         Damselfish        Wrasses     Parrotfish         Introduced fish         Corals and relatives         Mollusks         Crustaceans         Urchins & relatives         Turtle

Butterflyfish and Relatives

Four-spot Butterflyfish

Blue-lined Butterflyfish

Dusky Butterflyfish

Millet-seed Butterflyfish

Ornate Butterflyfish

Oval Butterflyfish

Pebbled Butterflyfish



Raccoon Butterflyfish

Reticulated Butterflyfish

Tear-drop Butterflyfish

Threadfin Butterflyfish

Saddle Butterflyfish

Surgeonfish and Relatives

Brown Surgeonfish

Gold-ring Tang

Convict Tangs

Achilles Tang

Orange-band Surgeonfish

White-bar Surgeonfish

Yellow-fin Surgeonfish

Yellow Tangs

Sailfin Tang

Ringtail Surgeonfish

Eye-stripe Surgeonfish

Blue-spine Unicornfish

Orange-spine Unicornfish

Spotted Unicornfish

Moorish Idol

Moorish Idol

Moorish Idol after dark

Jacks and Relatives, and some other schooling silvery fish

Greater Amberjack


juvenile Omilu



Big-eye Scad

Flat-tail Needlefish



Blue Goatfish

White-spotted Goatfish

White-saddle Goatfish

Yellow-stripe Goatfish

Many-bar Goatfish

Yellowfin Goatfish

Triggferfish and Relatives

Lagoon Triggerfish

Reef Triggerfish

Lei Triggerfish

Pink-tailed Durgon

Black Durgons


Barred Filefish

Fantail Filefish

Square-tail Filefish

Scrawled Filefish

Pufferfish and Relatives

Stripe-belly Pufferfish

Sleeping Pufferfish

Spotted Pufferfish

Lantern Toby

White-spotted Toby

Crown Toby

Spotted Burrfish

Fish that like caves during the day

White-mouth Moray

Mustache Conger

Shoulderbar Soldierfish

Saber Squirrelfish

Spotfin Squirrelfish

Band-fin Cardinalfish

Trumpetfish & Cornetfish



Miscellaneous Fish

Great Baracuda

Spotted Eagle Ray

Humpback Scorpionfish

Spotted Trunkfish

Peacock Flounder

Peacock Flounder revealed

Clearfin Lizardfish


Blackside Hawkfish

Arc-eyed Hawkfish

Redbar Hawkfish


Blue-eye Damselfish

Hawaiian Dascyllus

Pacific Gregory

Hawaiian Sergeant

Black-spot Sergeant


Bird Wrasse

Cigar Wrasse

Elegant Wrasse

Saddle Wrasse

Black-tail Wrasse

Christmas Wrasse

Hawaiian Hogfish

Yellow-tail Coris

Ringtail Wrasse

Pearl Wrasse

Cleaner Wrasse


Palenose Parrotfish

Male Palenose Parrotfish

Star-eye Parrotfish

Aliens (fish introduced from elsewhere)

Bluestripe snapper

Black-tail Snapper

Peacock Grouper

Corals and relatives

Finger Coral

Antler Coral

Lobe Coral

Rose Coral

Mushroom Coral


Christmas-tree Hydroid

Octopus and relatives

Day Octopus

Neon Flying Squid

Triton's Trumpet

Track of an Auger

Pearl Oyster



Kona Crab

Banded Spiny Lobster

Sea Urchins and relatives

Needle-spined Urchin

Rock-boring Urchin

Red Pencil Urchin

Collector Urchin

Crown-of-thorns Starfish


Green Sea Turtle

Very old Green Sea Turtle