CREATURE FEATURE: Humphead Maori Wrasse

The Humphead Maori Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is also called the Napoleon Wrasse, Napoleonfish, and Maori Wrasse. It is a large Indo-Pacific fish found on coral reefs.

The Humphead Maori Wrasse has a hump on its forehead. It is blue-green to purple-blue or yellow-blue with two thin, black lines behind its eyes. It has thick lips and blue-green-yellow eyes.

It can grow to about 100 centimetres (39 inches). It is the largest member of the Labridae family.

It is found in the tropical, coral reef waters off the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. It can also be found in lagoons. It lives among hard and soft coral and sea grasses.

Humphead Maori Wrasse

Humphead Maori Wrasse

The Humphead Maori Wrasse is often found alone, but can join small groups of 3-7 individuals.

It feeds on snails, sea urchins, crabs, and fish.

It breeds slowly. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, which means that it changes its gender. It is usually female, and becomes male at about 9 years of age. The factors that control the sex change are not yet known.

They breed in groups. Humphead Maori Wrasse, after 4-6 years of age, meet at a breeding place at certain times of the year. They do not travel far. The females lay lots of small, round eggs that stick to the corals.

The Humphead Maori Wrasse is long-lived, up 45-50 years.

Humphead Maori Wrasse

Humphead Maori Wrasse

Humphead Maori Wrasse

Humphead Maori Wrasse


Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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