Abundant. What a refreshing word to use to describe one of Hawaii's endemic critters. This is the saddle wrasse, hinalea lau-wili, Thalassoma duperrey, one of the most common reef fish found here. And while wrasses can be tricky to i.d. due to the color changes they go through from juvenile to adult, the adult saddle wrasse design is pretty straightforward. The generic epithet, Thalassoma, comes from the Greek thalassa: the sea, and soma: body; and indeed, the green and blue body is the color of the sea, which would make it tough to spot if it weren't for that blazing red-orange saddle. Another thing to look for is the way they swim: wrasses beat their pectoral fins up and down like wings, rarely using their tail fins unless a quick get-away is in order.
As juveniles they sport brown, black, and white snout to tail stripes, but will begin the color change when they are around two and a half inches. As adults, they typically get to be around six to eight inches, but can get larger, with the biggest coming in at around eleven inches. They inhabit rubbly areas, lagoons, and reefs, where they spend their days in search of crustaceans and other invertebrates, as well as fish eggs and limu. It has been reported that they will engage in cleaning behavior, plucking ectoparasites off of other fish for a quick meal. It is believed they all begin life as females, with some of them going through sex reversal, becoming males. The largest are known as supermales, and show a white streak behind the orange saddle. At night, saddle wrasses may literally bury their heads in the sand, snuggling in for a good night's sleep.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.