The humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), also called Napoleon wrasse, can be found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Red Sea. The males, who are larger than the females, can grow to be up to 2 meters and weigh 180 kg/400 lbs. Though they are sometimes seen moving in small groups, humpheads are solitary creatures who live primarily on their own. They prey on invertebrates, annelids, sea urchin, crustaceans and fish. Humpheads are cleaver hunters, like many wrasses they can be seen smashing urchins open on rocks in order to eat them. They sometimes follow stingrays around, waiting for them to stir up the sand and release a tasty meal, they also team up with roving coral groupers to form hunting parties from time-to-time.
Humpheads have long lifespans, living between 30-50 years, but do not mature sexually until they are 4-6 years old. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, with some males becoming female at around 9-years old. Humphead wrasse are currently endangered due to habitat loss, and extreme unethical overfishing, taking place to appease those who consider the fish to be a delicacy. We encountered this humphead diving Ras Mohammed. Read more in our post, Scuba diving the Red Sea Aboard the Blue Force 3 Liveaboard, Egypt.