Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and the Johnston Atoll, the saddle wrasse is called hinalea lau-wili in Hawaiian. These fish don’t sit idly by waiting for dinner, but are constantly moving about, scanning the reef for food as they swim using labriform locomotion – a form of swimming characteristic of the wrasse family, wherein the wrasse flaps its pectoral fins like a bird’s wings, appearing to fly through the water.
The saddle wrasse is named for the distinctive red/orange saddle shape just behind the pectoral fins, extending under the belly like a horse's saddle. Adults have a blue head, green body and lavender highlights along the pectoral and caudal fins, and up close you can see short purple bars running vertically in two rows along the length of their bodies. As members of the wrasse family, they are capable of changing from female to male, and they develop a white bar behind the saddle when they transition. One of the most abundant reef fish in Hawaii, the saddle wrasse get up to 28 cm long and are found singly or in harems in clear lagoon and seaward reefs.• Rubber sole
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