Humphead Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus Rüppell 1835


Other Names: Blue-tooth Groper, Double-headed Maori Wrasse, Double-headed Parrot-fish, Giant Maori Wrasse, Giant Wrasse, Hump-headed Maori Wrasse, Hump-headed Wrasse, Maori Wrasse, Napoleon Maori-wrasse, Napoleon Wrasse

A Humphead Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus, on Norman Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:

This enormous wrasse is the largest species in the family Labridae. Adults can be recognised by their huge size, prominent hump on the forehead and thick rubbery lips. Juveniles have a pair of dark wavy lines extending from behind the eye, an elongate dark marking on the body scales and a yellow margin to the caudal fin.

Although widespread on coral reefs in the Indo-west-central Pacific, Humphead Maori Wrasse are uncommon throughout their range. They are a highly valued and luxury food fish and are actively sought for the live reef fish trade in many parts of their range. The species is very susceptible to fishing pressure, and as a result, it is CITES-listed and is considered Endangered by the IUCN. 

Images and video footage at ARKive

Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations

IUCN Cheilinus undulatus


Cite this page as:
Cheilinus undulatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Oct 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2962

Humphead Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus Rüppell 1835

More Info


Distribution

Offshore reefs of Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the northern Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea to southern Queensland; also Elizabeth & Middleton Reefs, Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific, from the Red Sea and east Africa, to the central Pacific.

Inhabits offshore reefs in depths to 100 m.

Features

Dorsal fin IX, 10; Anal fin III, 8

Adults develop a prominent bulbous hump on the forehead and thick lips.

Colour

Juveniles are pale greenish to greyish with an elongate dark mark on each scale, two dark wavy lines extending from the rear of the eye and a yellow margin to the caudal fin.

Feeding

Carnivore - feeds mostly on crustaceans, molluscs, fishes and echinoderms.

Biology

A long-lived protogynous hermaphrodite that changes sex from female to male during its life cycle. Individuals mature at about 6 years of age, and some females become males at about 9 years of age. 

Individuals form small to medium-sized spawning aggregations, usually on outer reefs. Humphead Maori Wrasse can live for up to 30 years.

Fisheries

Although historically fished commercially in northern Australia, Humphead Maori Wrasse have been protected under State legislation in Western Australia since 1998, and in Queensland since 2003.

This highly prized food fish has been heavily exploited for the live reef fish trade through its core range in southeastern Asia (Sadovy et al. 2003).

Conservation

  • IUCN Red List : Endangered
  • This highly prized food fish has been heavily-exploited for the live reef fish trade througout SE Asia.
  • Etymology

    The species name undulatus is from Latin, meaning "wavy" or "waved".

    Species Citation

    Cheilinus undulatus Rüppell, 1835, Fische des Rothen Meeres: 20. Type locality: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Red Sea.

    Resources

    Australian Faunal Directory

    Humphead Maori Wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus Rüppell 1835

    References


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    Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 197 pp.

    Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C.& Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

    Choat, J.H. & Bellwood, D.R. 1994. Wrasses and parrotfishes. pp. 211-215. In J.R. Paxton & Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.) Encyclopedia of fishes. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

    Choat, J.H., Davies, C.R., Ackerman, J.L. & Mapstone, B.D. 2006. Age structure and growth in a large teleost, Cheilinus undulatus, with a review of size distribution in labrid fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 318: 237–246.

    Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp.

    CITES Workshop Report on the Trade of Cheilinus undulatus (Humphead Wrasse / Napoleon Wrasse) & CITES implementation. 3-4 June 2010, Bali, Indonesia. pdf

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    Quick Facts


    CAAB Code:37384038

    Biology:Hermaphrodite

    Conservation:IUCN Endangered; CITES listed

    Depth:2-100 m

    Fishing:Fished commercially

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:230 cm TL; 190 kg

    Species Image Gallery

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    CAAB distribution map