A few years back, I got an opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef, and when you are there, you cannot escape scuba diving and exploring the underwater world, which is simply breathtaking.
Steven Spielberg probably would have gotten the inspiration for his movie Avtaar from there only. The magic of the coral reef takes you to another level.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest coral reef in the world, which can be seen even from outer space. The coral ecosystem provides a habitat for various marine animals, including shrimps, starfish, crabs, clams, snails, fishes, etc.
One special mention goes to Wrasse, which is a coral reef fish. This enormous fish particularly enamored me. At first sight, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of this fish, but in a few seconds, the gentle fish captivated my attention.
Wrasses are one of the most diverse groups of fish, with over 500 species, and are found in almost 50 countries.
One of the commonly seen wrasses at the Australian reef is “Wally,” the Humphead Maori Wrasse, identified for the bump on its head. The intricate patterns of green and blue on their bodies are simply brilliant.
Wally Maori Wrasse is a local celebrity in the Australian waters, not only for their good looks but also for their friendliness and being the complete opposite of camera shyness. Any tourist or diver taking the plunge into the Great Barrier Reef cannot escape taking a photograph with this colorful, gentle giant.
The humphead wrasse can grow over 180 cm and live up to 30 years. Another interesting aspect of this friendly fish is that it is a protogynous hermaphrodite. When they are 4-6 years old, some females can transition into males.
These fishes are extremely significant to coral reef health. They feed on one of the enemies of the coral reef, crown-of-thorns starfish, and therefore keep populations of this damaging coral reef predator in check. They also like eating other small reef fish, mollusks, sea urchins, and shrimp, which are often used as bait by tour guides and underwater photographers.
Whenever you visit the Great Barrier Reef in the Queensland state of Australia, you are not sure if you will spot other marine animals. Still, Wally Maori Wrasse’s curiosity will ensure they will surely come to say hello.
Provided humans do not extinct them, I learned that the humphead wrasse is listed as an endangered species because of its demand from China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia.
Hence, I thought to share this article to increase awareness of this beautiful creature. Hopefully, it will continue to delight and bring cheer to anyone visiting the Great Barrier Reef and also keep protecting the corals from damage.