Dec 22, 2011

My Humu Honey

Nearly every telephone conversation I have with nephew Cole goes something like this ...

Cole: Did you swim with the Humuhumunukunukuapau'a today?

Me: Yep, I did. They said "aloha, aunty!"

Cole: What else did you see? Did you see the eel that almost bit Dad in the belly?

Not only did my amazing nephews master the pronunciation of Hawaiian fish names during their last visit to The House of Good Living - they also witnessed the near evisceration of their father (to him tell it, that is) by the reef's resident moray eel. While it's true that the eel's toothy face DID get a little close to the belly floating above it, I think it would have only been a flesh wound.

Be that as it may, I swing wide around the rock where I know the eel hangs out. The crazy-neon-striped Humu seem positively benevolent in comparison; I totally understand Cole's fascination with their fluttery little fins and blue teeth. Literally translated as "triggerfish with the pig-like short snout", the Humu can be drab-colored when resting but will glow with color when it feels safe and unthreatened.

The Humuhumunukunukuapau'a is the state fish of Hawaii. However, it's not the longest Hawaiian word. That "honor" belongs to another fish: Lauwiliwilinukunuku╩╗oi╩╗oi - a type of butterfly fish whose name translates as "long-snouted fish shaped like a wiliwili leaf." Don't you just love this language?!

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