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An endemic enigma: the secret identity of Hong Kong's black paradise fish
New reef fish from High Island dam dollos
The humphead wrasse: a threatened species
Reproductive biology of Halichoeres nigrescens, the bubblefin wrasse
What is SCRFA?
Starling Inlet - tomorrow's empty wetland?
The 2002 Woodland Breeding Bird Survey - result highlights
Nesting population of egrets and herons in 2002-preliminary results
Is the Yellow-throated Marten in Hong Kong?
More tiger talk

The humphead wrasse: a threatened species

by Yvonne Sadovy

The humphead, Maori or Napoleon wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus (So Mei in Cantonese), is one of the largest reef fishes in the world, exceeding 2 m in maximum length and 30 years of age. This species is highly regarded for its flavour and texture and, in many places in the Pacific, is considered to be a special fish, presented to community leaders or only used on special occasions. Long-lived and slow maturing fishes such as the humphead, which takes about 5 years to become sexually mature at about 50 cm in total length, are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and the humphead wrasse has declined significantly in many parts of its geographic range because of overexploitation. The declines are due to excessive catches, both by spearfishing for traditional use and for the live reef food fish trade. Recent surveys show that live humpheads currently on sale in Hong Kong’s retail markets are mostly juveniles (i.e., below 50 cm total length) and have therefore never had the chance to reproduce to replenish populations. This species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and has recently been formally proposed for an Appendix II listing on CITES. For more information, see:


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