Interesting facts about Napoleon wrasse

As they are one of the better known and larger reef fish, we wanted to give you a few interesting facts about Napoleon wrasse. This gentle giant, commonly called the humphead wrasse, is one of our favourite fish.

Divers can encounter Napoleons in many regions of the world and it is often a happy moment. They are not only very photogenic but also very friendly, a great combination. It makes it very easy to photograph its beauty!

Protogynous hermaphrodite

At around the age of 9, many Napoleon wrasse change their sex from female to male as they grow older and larger. This means that they change from a female’s red orange colours to a male’s bright blue – green colours. The triggers for this development are not fully understood, but some scientists believe that it can be prompted by the disappearance of a dominant male.

female napoleon wrasse
A female Napoleon wrasse. Photo: Gerald Rambert

Long lifespan

Napoleon wrasse can live up to 30 years (some sources even say up to 50 years) with females generally outliving males. The older males have a prominent hump on their forehead and take on a brilliant blue coloration. Moreover, the characteristic patterns on their face become more intense in color.

Napoleon wrasse
An adult male Napoleon wrasse. Photo: Gerald Rambert

Immune to toxins

Napoleons are one of the few fish that can eat toxic animals such as boxfish, sea hares, and the crown of thorns starfish. They are therefore a key part of the marine food chain in keeping a balanced and healthy coral reef.

Their eyes can rotate 360 degrees

Yes, you read that right. Each eye can rotate to look forwards, backwards, up, and down. Independently. Much like a chameleon. They are constantly moving, always swiveling around to observe their surroundings.

Old Napoleon wrasse
Old Napoleon wrasse © Blue Shark

If these interesting facts about Napoleon wrasse picked at your curiosity, head to Indonesia, Palau and the Solomons. These are some of the top destinations to observe this amazing fish.


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