It’s been another ten days since my last blog post. I’m now happily living in Maryland, and it’s Humpday, so, what animal lives in Maryland and has a hump? Why, the Humphead Wrasse, of course!
Never heard of the Humphead Wrasse? Neither had I until I got here. They aren’t native to these parts, but they do reside at the National Aquarium, here in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the best aquariums in the country.
The colossal Humphead Wrasse, also called the Napoleon Wrasse, is one of the largest fish inhabiting coral reefs. These enormous fish can grow up to six feet and weigh a whopping 400 pounds! It is easily identifiable by its thick lips, prominent hump on its forehead, and two black lines behind its eyes. The coloring of Humphead Wrasses can range from a dull blue-green to brilliant shades of green or purplish-blue.
This is a very long-lived species, with a life span of over 30 years. Humphead wrasses, like most wrasses, are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that they can function as members of both sexes over their reproductive lives and that they will start as females. Later in life they may transition to males, but in some species not all individuals will transition. The exact queues that trigger this amazing transformation are still being studied.
The humphead wrasse feeds on mollusks, reef fish, sea urchins, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They can even eat toxic sea hares, boxfish, and starfish. They can be found throughout the Indian Ocean, from the Red Sea to South Africa and the Tuamoto Islands in French Polynesia. It also ranges from the Ryukyu Islands to New Caledonia in the Pacific.
The fish is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is currently on the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service’s Species of Concern list. It is highly valued because of its large size and is considered a luxury food in some countries, so we need to do our part, bring awareness to the plight of the humphead wrasse, and help spread the word to save this majestic fish before it’s too late!
Happy Humpday (^_^)