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Federal Protection Sought for Humphead Wrasse

Cheilinus undulatus can reach more than 400 pounds and is a naturally inquisitive reef fish.

October 29, 2012

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Bentley, the humphead wrasse, is part of research to disprove that fish have poor memories

A petition to list the humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) as threatened or endangered has been submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service by WildEarth Guardians, an advocacy group that is seeking its protections.

The wrasse, one of the largest reef fishes in the world that can weight more than 400 pounds, has been a victim to overfishing and their docile nature, according to a statement put out by the organization. The fish can grow up to six feet in length and can fetch $60 to $120 dollars per kilogram in the live fish trade. The humphead wrasse is inquisitive in nature and is apparently easy to hunt. They are becoming rarer in the wild due to overfishing and habitat destruction, the group said.

Also known as the Napoleon wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, gastropods and echinoderms, and can also feed on the toxic Aplysia and boxfish. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region and has been protected in Australia and Niue. China, Indonesia, the Maldives, and Papua New Guinea have instituted certain restrictions on the species as well. It is currently listed as a species of concern by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

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