Rare reef fish survives injury

A rare species of coral reef fish accidentally netted by fishermen off the coast of Vizhinjam early last month has been nursed back to health after undergoing a surgery at the aquarium under the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) here.

The Giant Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) weighing 25 kg is one of the largest specimens caught and kept live in India, according to M.K. Anil, Principal Scientist in charge of the CMFRI research centre, Vizhinjam. The fishermen who captured the injured fish alerted scientists at the CMFRI centre who instructed them to confine it to a cage in the floating raft system in the Vizhinjam bay.

Later, the caged fish was brought to the aquarium and transferred to a five-tonne tank with continuous aeration. “It was badly injured and struggling for life,” Dr. Anil said. The scientists sought the help of A.K. Abhilash, veterinary surgeon at the Government Veterinary Hospital, Vizhinjam, who stitched the wound and administered antibiotics.

The fish has recovered and is now on display at the marine aquarium.

The Humphead Wrasse is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. It is widely distributed on coral reefs and inshore habitats throughout much of the tropical Indo-Pacific, from western Indian Ocean and Red Sea to southern Japan, New Caledonia, and into the central Pacific Ocean.

It is a hermaphrodite

A hermaphroditic species, changing sex from female to male, it can grow to a length of more than 2 metres and weigh up to 180 kg. Females are known to live around 50 years, while males have a shorter lifespan of about 45 years. It feeds on a variety of molluscs, fishes, sea urchins, crustaceans, and other invertebrates.

Heavily exploited for the live fish trade, the Humphead Wrasse has been on the decline in most of its habitats in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The species cannot be artificially cultured to relieve fishing pressure.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 2:41:29 PM |

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