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Cheilinus undulatus Ruppell, 1835
by Mr. Tan Kok Kiat
Newsletter
Cheilinus undulatus Ruppell, 1835
by Mr. Tan Kok Kiat

The humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is an endangered coral reef fish belong to the family Labridae. The genus name is derived from Greek word, cheilos meaning lip, while the species epithet is derived from Latin word, undulatus meaning wavy or undulating.

The adults will develop a large hump on forehead that can protrude anterior to eye. The size a mature humphead wrasse can reach up to 2.29 m in total length, and the heaviest fish recorded is 190.5 kg. However, the common total length of male is around 60 cm. The body colour of the humphead wrasse is olive to green with a vertical dark bar on each scale above and behind pectoral fins. The head of the adults are blue-green with highly irregular undulating yellowish lines. Also, the adults have two black lines extending posteriorly from eye. For juvenile, the colouration is lighter to white with dark scale bars and prominent black line extending posteriorly from eyes. Also, the juvenile has two lines extending diagonally up and back from eye and two diagonally downward on snout in front of eye (Carpenter & Niem, 2001).

The humphead wrasse is found broadly distributed in the Indo-Pacific. It can be found living on coral reefs at depths of 5 to 60 m. It is diurnal, active in the day time to search for prey. It diets includes fishes and benthic, hard-shelled, invertebrates such as molluscs and crustaceans (Carpenter & Niem, 2001).

In the market, this species has high retail price and in high demand in Asia. In Malaysia, the price of a frozen humphead wrasse selling online is around RM 135/kg (Catch and Carry Seafood, 2021). Due to high demand, the juvenile and sub-adult of humphead wrasse were seriously overexploits. Therefore, this fish species is being listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during the 13th Conference of Paris (COP13) in October 2004 (CITES, 2017). Also, this species is being assessed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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