Saving the Napoleon wrasse

Indonesia is well known for its rich fauna and flora.

But with opportunistic businessmen working in cohorts with greedy officials, it might not remain that way.

There are plans, for example, to turn lush tropical rainforests into huge palm oil plantations.

And it’s not only on land where the destruction is taking place

Because Indonesia’s incredibly rich marine ecosystems are also in grave danger.

Dynamite fishing of coral reefs, the destruction of mangrove swamps and worsening pollution are all threatening Indonesia’s marine life.

But perhaps the biggest danger may come from poaching.

Because a lot of rich idiots overseas are prepared to pay astronomical sums of money for Indonesia’s sea creatures.
Like the unique snake-necked turtle from the small island of Roti in eastern Indonesia which has become such a hit with collectors that illegal trade has driven the species to the brink of extinction.

The turtle can if fact command such high prices – up to US$500 each in the West – that locals on the island fly especially to Jakarta just to sell them, taking them as hand luggage!

The magnificent Napoleon wrasse is another sea creature under threat.

These rare fish are so coveted by gourmet diners in Hong Kong that prices are currently skyrocketing: a single 90 pound Napoleon wrasse can now fetch more than US$5,000!

I was pleased then to read that the Indonesian police foiled attempts to smuggle 200 specimens of this species from the Bunaken National Marine Park last week.

Adult Napoleon wrasse are identified by thick lips and a prominent hump on their forehead, while juveniles are a light green colour, with two black lines extending from behind the eye. The species changes in body form, colour and sex during its lifetime. Adults are found on the reef during the day. At night they rest in reef caves and under coral ledges. This species reaches a maximum length of more than 2 metres and up to 190kg in weight.


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