Coral reef fish de­clared flag­ship species of Apo Reef

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By RHODINA VIL­LANUEVA

The coral reef fish has been de­clared as flag­ship species of the world fa­mous Apo Reef Nat­u­ral Park off Oc­ci­den­tal Min­doro.

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) Pro­tected Area Man­age­ment Board ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion on May 10 declar­ing the Napoleon wrasse (Cheil­i­nus un­du­lates), lo­cally known as Ma­meng, as flag­ship species. “The dec­la­ra­tion will boost efforts to pro­tect and con­serve not only the Apo Reef, but more im­por­tantly the rich bio­di­ver­sity that thrive in the pro­tected area,” En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Roy Ci­matu said.

Napoleon wrasse is one of the largest reef fish and the big­gest of the wrasse fam­ily, Labri­dae. It has thick lips and a bul­bous hump on the fore­head.

The reef fish is marked by green and blue hues with elon­gated dark spots on scales and two dis­tinct lines stretch­ing from each eye. It may grow up to six feet long and weigh up to 200 kilo­grams.

The fish is com­monly found on steep coral reefs in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion, which in­clude ar­eas in South­east Asia like the Philip­pines’ Sablayan in Oc­ci­den­tal Min­doro.

It feeds on toxic an­i­mals such as crown-of-thorns starfish.

Con­trary to its mas­cu­line name, Napoleon wrasse is her­maph­ro­dite, which means some fe­males can be­come males once they reach sexual ma­tu­rity.

As a flag­ship species, Napoleon wrasse will serve as the sym­bol of con­ser­va­tion of the Apo Reef Nat­u­ral Park.

“We con­sider Napoleon wrasse as the guardian of the reef. It is a key player in main­tain­ing bal­ance and vi­brancy of ma­rine ecosys­tem in Apo Reef,” park area chief Celso Almazan said.

Almazan said the Apo Reef Nat­u­ral Park owes its pink sand to the Napoleon wrasse as it feeds on mol­lusks, fish, sea urchins, crus­taceans and other in­ver­te­brates.

Almazan said these are se­creted by the fish as or­ganic ma­te­ri­als which, over a pe­riod of time, mix with frag­mented rock and min­eral par­ti­cles to form sand.

Napoleon wrasse is listed in the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna or CITES Ap­pen­dix II.

It is also listed by the In­ter­na­tional Union on the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture as en­dan­gered based on a pop­u­la­tion reduction of at least 50 per­cent over the last 30 years.

Napoleon wrasse

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