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Feisty Fish Loses Hawaiian Title

January 29, 2006|From Associated Press

HONOLULU — Everyone thought the humuhumunukunukuapuaa was Hawaii's state fish. As it turns out, the brightly colored fish with the excessively long name has been dethroned.

"I was really surprised," said Rep. Blake Oshiro, who has drawn up a bill that would make humuhumunukunukuapuaa -- also known as the rectangular triggerfish or "humuhumu" for short -- the official state fish for the islands.

The stubby-nosed, brightly striped and slightly aggressive little fish whose name few tourists even try to utter (it's pronounced HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah) is commonly believed to be the state's favorite.

The fish figures into tourist trinkets, broadcast commercials and a much-beloved song about a little grass shack.

Much like its name, the fish's road to titlelessness is long and confusing.

When it was selected the state fish in the 1980s, there was a time limit on the designation.

Still, it seems few realized that the humuhumu was no longer officially the state fish until recently.

"Here's a cute little fish," said Chuck Johnston, editor of Hawaii Fishing News. "It kind of looks like a pig and it squawks and everything."

Johnston is among those advocating that the fish be given the state title in perpetuity through an executive order.

Among the reasons it's a good candidate, he said, is that no one eats humuhumu.

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