Humphead Maori Wrasse

Cheilinus Undulatus
Humphead Maori Wrasse - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Cheilinus Undulatus
Other names Bluetooth Groper, Doubleheaded Maori Wrasse, Doubleheaded Parrotfish, Giant Maori Wrasse, Giant Wrasse, Humpheaded Wrasse, Maori Wrasse, Napoleon Maori Wrasse
Size Up to 2.3 m (7.54 ft)
Weight Up to 190 kg (418.8 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Deeper coastal waters amongst offshore coral reefs on the outer edges
Depth Range 3 - 60 m (196 ft)
Humphead Maori Wrasse Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Humphead Maori Wrasse can be found in various regions along the northern coasts of Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, and other reefs in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
  • Humphead Maori Wrasse are characterised by their large, thick lips and a prominent hump on their forehead, which gives them their common name. They have a robust, elongated body with a dark blue or green coloration on the upper side and a lighter shade on the lower side.
  • They are a carnivorous species, with their diet consisting of hard-shelled invertebrates such as molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. They have powerful jaws and specialised teeth that allow them to crush and consume these prey items. Additionally, they also feed on smaller fish and occasionally graze on algae.
  • Despite being predominantly sedentary and territorial, Humphead Maori Wrasse have been observed undertaking long-distance movements. Studies have shown that individuals can travel significant distances, up to several hundred kilometres, between different reef systems.
  • They are known to produce distinctive grunting sounds. These sounds are thought to be a form of communication between individuals and are used for territorial defence or during courtship displays.
  • Humphead Maori Wrasse are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they start their lives as females and can transition to males later in life. They typically breed during the summer months, between December and March, when water temperatures are warmer. During breeding season, males undergo a vibrant colour change, displaying a vivid blue-green hue.
  • Their estimated average lifespan is between 30 – 40 years. There are reports of them living up to 60 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Snorkeling & Diving

The Humphead Maori Wrasse is not typically targeted for recreational fishing in Australia. Due to their protected status and conservation concerns, there are strict regulations in place to limit the harvesting of this species. When caught they should be released. They are highly sought-after by snorkelers and divers due to their impressive size, striking appearance, and relatively approachable behaviour. They can be a thrilling sight to encounter underwater.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae

Genus: Cheilinus

Species: Cheilinus Undulatus

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Humphead Maori Wrasse is listed as a protected species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). They are classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to various threats, including overfishing and habitat degradation.

How to catch
Humphead Maori Wrasse

Catch Difficulty: Difficult

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Crab, Fresh cut flesh baits, Prawns, Squid, Worms

Technique: Keep bait close to the reef/structure

Popularity: Not targeted

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Curious

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None

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