Education Bullet
Education and Outreach

Creature Feature: Bigeye Emperor, Mū

Bigeye Emperor, Mū.
Bigeye Emperor, Mū. Photo Credit: James Watt

Bigeye Emperor (Monotaxis grandoculis, Mū in Hawaiian) are an odd fish, almost like cows of the shallow reef, the way they gather in groups and wander about. They have an interesting tendency to hover, almost motionless, over the reef. If you try to approach them they magically drift away, keeping the same distance, yet do not appear to move at all. It is like they are levitating. Mū eat invertebrates (crabs, small mollusks) that live in sand or rubble and they have teeth that resemble human molars in the back for grinding and crushing shells, and short, pointy teeth in the front for grabbing. In Hawaiian, the word mū also refers to any destructive insects that eat wood, cloth, or plants. It is also the name for the public executioner who executed taboo breakers. Children were sometimes scared by being told that the mū would get them. Mū, the fish, are found throughout the Indo-Pacific and are most active at night.