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.
The news shook the world of Rep. Blake Oshiro, who found out the designation was no longer official from Joel Itomura, a 6-year-old fish-loving son of a friend and constituent.
"I was really surprised," said Oshiro, who has drawn up a bill that would make humuhumunukunukuapuaa - 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.
In 1984 the state Legislature asked the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium to survey the public and come up with a candidate for the state fish.
The humuhumu was swept into the spot in part through the support of schoolchildren who learned of the campaign through classroom projects.
Although the issue of the state fish would seem to come with little controversy, the method used to poll the public was questioned, and lawmakers limited the designation to five years.
No one told the public that the humuhumu's reign was over, so few knew anything had changed.
State Rep. K. Mark Takai said he had objections to a similar bill a decade ago because many of his constituents were in favor of the oopu, a brownish, freshwater gobbie endemic to the islands, he said. The humuhumu is not unique to Hawaii, he said.
There is no lack of fish species specific to the islands.
But while humuhumu may call more than just Hawaii its home, it has a few undeniable attributes on its side - cuteness and unpalatability.
"Here's a cute little fish. It kind of looks like a pig and it squawks and everything," said Chuck Johnston, editor of Hawaii Fishing News.
It's also good because no one eats a humuhumu, he said.