Hawaii Yellow Tangs

Lau’ipala, Yellow Tang

A handful of Yellow Tang surgeonfish (Zebrasoma flavescens) meander through a field of white finger corals as other reef fish do the same at a Northwest reef in Hawaii. In Hawaiian, tangs are called, “lau’ipala,” which translates literally as, “yellow leaf,” very appropriate, especially when seen from above water.

The bright yellow surgeonfish has been a popular saltwater tank fish for years due to its standout color. This popularity surged in recent years and has left populations of the fish in a precarious place as the demand out-paces the supply. Not usually raised in tanks, yellow tangs are instead taken directly from reefs just like this one and sold to tropical fish traders. Because of their declining numbers, Yellow Tangs were recently added to a list of reef fish species with more restrictions on their collection.

Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR, Photo Date: 2004 July

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