Species: Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: Adult females are able to change sex!
Straight from our new endangered species section, the humphead wrasse is a reef-dwelling giant. One of the largest reef fishes in the world, this species earns its name from the prominent hump that develops on the forehead of mature individuals. Adults are generally solitary and spend the day foraging on the reef, using their tough teeth to consume hard-shelled species such as molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans. Humphead wrasses are extremely long-lived, known to survive for at least 30 years, and taking around five to seven years to reach sexual maturity.
Although widespread, the humphead wrasse has never been common. The flesh of this fish is highly prized and more recently this species has become one of the most highly sought species of the Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT). Unfortunately, populations can only sustain light levels of fishing. As little is known about the biology of this species, more data are urgently needed to understand the scale of the threats faced by current populations, and to implement effective conservation programmes.
For more information on humphead wrasse conservation, visit the IUCN Groupers and Wrasses Specialist Group page.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author