IT takes a lot to leave marine experts speechless, but this stunning creature has left aquarium staff tongue-tied as they struggle to pronounce its impossible name.
The eye-catching hum-uhumunukunukuapua’a is the latest arrival at Blue Reef but as much as they want to show it off to the public, nobody can pronounce its troublesome title.
The humuhumunukunukua-pua’a is the national fish of Hawaii, and the ability to pronounce its name is a badge of honour among locals there who use it as a test to identify interlopers. But that hardly helps the Blue Reef workers, who have been left red-faced by their tropical charge.
The aquarium’s Kate Buss said: “He’s a beautiful-looking fish but none of us have got the faintest idea how to pronounce his name and it’s proving a little embarrassing when we do our public talks and feeding demonstrations as he’s the one fish in the toxic reef display that everyone always asks us about.
“We got someone to write it out phonetically but that really wasn’t any clearer and we tried just calling him a wedge tail triggerfish, which is an alternate name, but no one’s letting us get away with that either.”
The name roughly translates in English as ‘the fish with the pig-nosed face’, and it is said that it makes a peculiar grunting sound when it is lifted out the water. But its bizarre name is not the only pitfall for the unsuspecting traveller – its aggressive nature and razor sharp teeth make it dangerous to divers and adventurous foodies should be aware that it is extremely poisonous if eaten.
But nonetheless the humuhumunukunukuapua’a is already a hit with visitors to the aquarium, after overcoming some initial tank fright. “He has a lot of personality and he rushes around the tank, eating and filtering sand and always looking like he’s on a mission to get somewhere,” said Miss Buss.