IUCN Species of the Day: Humphead Wrasse


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: Georgette Douwma


The Humphead Wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus, is listed as ‘ENDANGERED’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. It is one of the largest reef fishes in the world, reaching almost two metres in length, and occurs throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Although widespread, the Humphead Wrasse is uncommon. Its flesh is highly prized, especially in the popular live reef-fish trade. This wrasse is particularly vulnerable to exploitation; even moderate levels of fishing have a significant impact on its numbers. Significantly, restaurants prefer the smaller, juvenile fish, so individuals are fished before they can reproduce. The Humphead Wrasse’s coral reef habitat is also threatened by human activities throughout parts of its range.

The global convention to address species threatened by international trade (CITES) lists this species in its Appendix II, thus calling for regulation of trade. Fishing regulations are in place for this species in many areas, but illegal and unregulated trade persists. Tighter controls need to be implemented, particularly as this species cannot be hatchery reared, so all traded individuals come from the wild.


Geographic Range of the Humphead WrasseCredit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ 


To learn more about the Humphead Wrasse, click here.  Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.

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To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.