This fish is ‘king of the reef.’ But high-end diners may change that.
The luxury live reef fish market threatens the humphead wrasse. Could its unique “eyelashes” help save it?
It’s the king of the coral reefs. The humphead wrasse, fittingly named for the bump on its head, can grow to six feet long, weigh up to 400 pounds, and live for 30 years.
Also known as Napoleon wrasses, these giants are things of beauty, with diamond patterning, varying green, blue, and yellow scales, and distinctive “eyelashes”—black diagonal lines behind each eye. The fish live in tropical waters of nearly 50 countries, from the coast of East Africa to the Pacific Ocean.
But they’re disappearing because of their reputation for being delicious. They’re considered a luxury food in Hong Kong, where per capita fish consumption is among the highest in the world, according to the marine environmental nonprofit Bloom Hong Kong.