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Napolean Wrasse (fish)

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 2 months ago
How we can save the Napoleon Wrasse- Save these endangered fish from Eager Fisher men, and water pollution in the Pacific Ocean


Description and Rationale


How we can save the Napoleon Wrasse- Save these endangered fish from Eager Fisher men, and water pollution in the Pacific Ocean

The Napoleon Wrasse is a native fish in the Philippines. Unfortunately the number Napoleon Wrasse is quickly decreasing, due to cyanide fishing and pollution in the water, if people don’t try to do something soon, we could very easily see this endangered species, become extinct! The Napoleon Wrasse is also widely known as the Hump-head Wrasse or Maori wrasse, and locally known in the Philippines as Mameng. They live along lagoons, reefs, and corals. The Napoleon Wrasse often lives alone or in pairs along these steep reefs, sometimes going down past two hundred feet. This fish rests in reef caves as well as using the reef caves as protection from predators. They live mainly in the Pacific Ocean, also inhabiting the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Why is the Napoleon Wrasse becoming extinct? What can we do to help save them? Many people enjoy eating the Napoleon Wrasse’s lips and eyes as a delicacy. Although it is unknown why people like to eat their eyes, their lips are most hunted because of their ability to eat poisonous fish with scales and spikes that stick out and kill most other fish, but for the Napoleon Wrasse they are a delectable treat. In 1999 the market price is ninety dollars per pound or two hundred dollars per kilogram, for Napoleon wrasse, which means that now-a-days the price has probably doubled since that time, especially since they are not hard to get with many sanctions that are being placed on these fish, to help preserve them. Many times while the Napoleon Wrasse hunts for its own food they go to the extreme of biting off the plant or substance that their prey is hiding under. Their prey consists mostly of fish that other fish can’t handle such as spiny fish, clams, snails, shrimp, starfish, brittle starfish, and more dangerous sea life like the sea urchin, boxfish, and sea hares. Each napoleon Wrasse can get up to seven and a half feet long and weigh as much as four hundred and fifty pounds. A practical way is to section off a sanction in a part of the ocean that are rich in Napoleon wrasse, which disallows any hunting of this fish for a few years until the population grows. Once the population of the Napoleon Wrasse the boxed off area can be decreased still sanctioning some fish and preserving an area where they can inhabit. Also the Philippine Government can become strict with discarding rubbish, because much of the items used at the everyday home get thrown out into the ocean, making it an unhealthy environment for the Napoleon Wrasse, because of the pollution being distributed into the waters it could affect the lifespan of these fish and many more.

The initial purpose of this project is to provide awareness that pollution in the ocean needs to be prevented to help save these rare fish from becoming extinct. This project will research more about their habitat and explain in a brochure making people aware of the danger that these fish are facing death by pollution and illegal hunting. Many times divers spray cyanide in the reef homes of the Wrasse poisoning them and killing corals and smaller sea life around the habitat of the Wrasse, only to make it an easy catch to get the Wrasse. Other times they will destroy the coral just to retrieve the Napoleon Wrasse, killing and leaving many fish with no homes that eventually move or start dying.

It is hoped that more sanctions and safe areas are provided to help save this rare fish from extinction, by making people aware by passing out brochures. The Napoleon Wrasse could potentially become a tourist attraction, in some areas that have been sanctioned off these fish have gotten used to divers coming, allowing them to touch and go up close to  the Wrasse.



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Common Names & Synonyms

The Cheilinus undulates is also known as the Napoleon or Hump-head wrasse. In the Philippines the common name is mameng. This fish is considered to be endangered, mostly found in the Philippines, government organizations have already started to put out secure areas for this fish.


Kingdom: Animalia (Animal)

Phylum: Chordata (Chordate)

Class: Actinopterygii (bony fish)

Order: Perciformes (Marine fish)

Family: Labridae (wrasses)

Genus:Cheilinus (Napoleon/Humphead/Maori)

Species: Cheilinus undulates (Napoleon wrasse)

There are many different types of wrasse, known for being a coral, reef fish. Some examples of the type of wrasse are: Broom tailed wrasse, Celebes wrasse, Cheeklined wrasse, Redbreast wrasse, and over 20 others.

Morphology & Physical Description

Most Napoleon wrasse is close to 5 feet, but there have been a few cases to which the fish has grown up to 8.2 feet. Which is 332.4 cm (5 feet) or up to 545.136 cm (8.2 feet). The napoleon wrasse or hump-head wrasse; have a distinct bump on their foreheads, with small eyes, thick lips, and have a mostly green and yellow body and electric blue color. Younger ones are paler, and have stripes or spots going down their body. The napoleon wrasse has a dorsal head profile that is more or less straight, their eyes and mouth are mostly normal except that their mouth is in the terminal position. Dorsal spines and rays along their side and fins.

Getting Food

The Napoleon wrasse is carnivores eating mostly fish that other large fish wouldn’t be able to devour.  When attacking prey, the jaws extend out of its mouth to allow it to reach into deep crevices in the coral. Or when the prey is hidden, the wrasse will bite away the object between the prey and itself, such as digging through sand, turning over rocks, and biting through logs or branches. Its diet consists of mainly; clams, shrimps, snails, crabs, sea stars, brittle stars, sea urchins, sea hares, boxfish,  crown of thorns sea star, and fish. The wrasse is believed to have thick, padded lips that act as a cushion for the prickly spines of sea urchins and other spiny sea life. Pharyngeal teeth or molar like teeth that are good for crushing crab shells and such are in the throat to help crush the large shells into small spectacles, allowing the wrasse to digest its food.


The wrasse starts as either male of female, but is able to change its sex, these kinds of fish are called, prodigious hermaphrodite.  They are born with both male and female organs. After the first, juvenile, stage these fish go through a initial phase, which means that female born fish can become males, but will never become a dominant male. In order for the fish to be a dominant male they must have been born male. But those female fish that stay female will be able to become the super male once the super male has died. The super male is recognized by size and distinct colors and patterns. The sex change in the wrasse ensures that there will always be a male and female to reproduce. During mating season the fish colors become brighter and more patterns can be easily seen. Like many other animals the super male has his own dominion where he protects it from predators as well as the females in the area. Wrasses’ are pelagic spawner, which means that they will huddle in a group where there are strong currents that might sweep the eggs away otherwise. The eggs float in the epipelagic zone or the zone in the open ocean near the surface. Here the eggs hatch out and the larvae float along until they reach a certain size. After they are large enough, the young wrasses drop down and join the other reef creatures.

Environmental Factors

The napoleon wrasse lives in big deep coral reef areas and lagoon areas. They like to live near steep slopes or ledges where they might be able to rest. People and  cyanide fishing is a huge environmental factor, the more and more people demanding the meat of this fish could eventually lead to extinction, if the proper precautions are not taken to preserve this beautiful creature.

Origin & Distribution

The Napoleon wrasse is the largest family from the Labridae family of fish. This fish family is found mainly in the Indo Pacific part of the world, living in deep coral reefs and by steep slopes. One of the main origins is the Philippines; many sanctions have been placed on this endangered fish due to cyanide fishing that has caused the population of this fish to decrease tremendously. In parts where they are commonly found a person may see up to twenty within a 10,000sq ft diameter.


Importance to People

The napoleon wrasse is used as an expensive

delicacy in many Southeast Asian countries. The                    

fish can cost up to three hundred United States

dollars per kilogram. In the Philippines this fish has

also been an important source of ecotourism, bringing 

money for the economy. The Napoleon wrasse                                  

has become people friendly allowing visitors to swim

up to the fish and touch it.


Survivability & Endangered Status

The Napoleon wrasse is under the endangered category. They are slowly running out, a person may only find up to 20 fish in a 10,000 sq foot diameter. Although these fish are slowly dying out they have an amazing survival technique that allows the females to become male and allow them to reproduce.




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Potential Solutions


Biology action step

The Napoleon is a decreasing species of fish native to the Philippines. What can be done to save this endangered species, before they completely disappear? The napoleon wrasse has been fighting for their life. Humans are the main predator of the napoleon wrasse, coming after their lips, used as delicacies, coming with cyanide fishing techniques that not only harm and kill the Napoleon wrasse, but also kills the environment around the wrasse, such as coral and other coral fish.  Following are some possibilities to what people can or have done to stop this fish from becoming extinct.

POSSIBILITY 1 Sanction off areas where fishing is not allowed

In order to save these fish, GMA could sanction of areas of the Philippines, disallowing fishermen and fishing boats to enter. An area where there are the most numbers of wrasse should be sanctioned as an area that allows these fish to increase their numbers so that they can be taken off the endangered list.


          1. the numbers of the fish will increase, because there won’t be the danger of their lips and eyes being hunted by fish exports.

          2. other animals living in these areas will be spared as well, there will be fewer coral and coral fish dying to the poison in cyanide fishing.


1. Companies will lose money due to not exporting enough fish, not necessarily just the wrasse but other fish living in the area as well.

2. People will not heed to laws or sanctions put on areas and the problem will continue to increase. More and more fish will disappear as the need for them increase.

POSSIBILITY 2 Petition to put higher taxes on exporting of fish


          1. By raising the prices on tax, of exporting the fish, it may discourage large corporations to buy big amounts, meaning that the fish might be taken off the market of food more because of the higher prices, making it too expensive to buy.

          2. By putting higher taxes onto the exporting of these fish, the Philippine government will get more money, possibly to be used to help save these fish or to help the poorer people of the Philippines that might be fishing for these fish to sell, because they have no other source of income.


          1. One disadvantage is that the companies will continue to buy the same amount, by just making their menu prices higher, forcing consumers to pay a higher price.

          2. Another disadvantage is that the corporations that do normally buy the meat, will discontinue all trade from the Philippines, causing the economy to go down due to money loss.

POSSIBILIY 3 Spread awareness

 By spreading awareness through brochures or another form such as videos or conventions that talk about the danger that these special fish lay in, and how they can prevent the species from dying out.


          1. People will take the information and spread throughout communities, that might reach fishing communities that are involved in cyanide fishing and might encourage them to stop or at least lesson their use of cyanide in the area of fishing.

          2. More people will take greater steps to stop the trade of wrasse. Maybe people who have recognition amongst large organizations will be moved to help this problem from becoming out of reach by holding conventions discouraging fishermen to hunt these species by the methods of cyanide fishing.  Or the news might reach government officials, who will be key in putting sanctions on these fish.


          1. People will not respond to these brochures, instead they will discard them and not bother to read the information concerning the wrasse.

          2. People will get the wrong idea and decide to go try and eat the fish instead of help the fish. This would make the problem bigger, if more and more wealthy Filipino families try Napoleon wrasse, making the market demand for the wrasse sky rocket.

My action step

I  will quickly walk through what the brochure talks about and explain to spread the news with friends. I have already given several of the Faith Academy Filipino staff brochures and have discussed the danger of the possible extinction of the napoleon wrasse and what it could do to help and benefit the people of the Philippines through ecotourism.




Works cited page

Unknown. "Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus Undulatus)." Arkive. 2003. unknown. 12 Mar. 2007 <http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/fish/Cheilinus_undulatus/more_info.html>.

Unknown. "Humphead Wrasse." Wikipedia. 25 Apr. 2007. 27 Apr. 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humphead_wrasse>.

Unknown. "Napoleon wrasse." www.answers.com. 12 Apr. 2007 <http://www.answers.com/topic/humphead-wrasse>.

Unknown. "Extinction is Forever; Please Help a Wrasse." Ocean Enviroment. 16 Mar. 2007 <http://www.oceannenvironment.org/nap.htm>.

Unknown. "Scuba Diving in Maldives." Speldidasia. 2006. 15 Mar. 2007 <http://www.splendidasia.com/maldives/scubadiving.html>.

"Wrasse." Springlink. 16 Apr. 2007 <http://www.springerlink.com/content/uq2w16232007g401/>.



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