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EFSA - European Federation Of Sea Anglers

cuckoo wrasse (LABRUS MIXTUS)

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WRASSE CUCKOO / LABRUS MIXTUS
6 12 0.79 1.12 Cahersiveen Ireland 030901 A. Meyer
AT AT 1.13 2.8 Dungeness England 160598 K. Marden
SH SH 0.79 1.12 Alderney Channel Is. 84 A. Smart

The Cuckoo Wrasse (Labrus Mixtus)

may not be the most abundant of the wrasse species, but its magnificent colouration tends to make it the most memorable. Colouration varies with age and sex; females and immature males tend to be yellowish brown to coral pink with a distinctive row of black and white blotches along the posterior section of the dorsal fin, and with blue edging to the fins. Mature males have a brilliant blue head with further blue markings interspers ed with
cuckoo wrasse (LABRUS MIXTUS)
orange or yellow down the flanks. The blue edging of the other fins tends to be greater in comparison with that of the female or immature males. In spring, when courtship starts, the already colourful male becomes even brighter so as to attract as many females as possible. As with ballan wrasse, all cuckoo wrasse start life as females. The gaudy male usually has a harem of several females and if he dies one of them will change sex to replace him.

Smaller than the ballan wrasse (males can reach 35 cm in length with females usually being smaller) the cuckoo wrasse is usually restricted to slightly de eper water than other wrasse species, so is less often seen when diving from the shore. Inquisitive and territorial males will often swim up to a diver’s mask and look them straight in the eye before following them at close quarters, even taking the odd nibble on a fin strap or dangling torch on occasion. Like other wrasse, the cuckoo has strong teeth, both in the jaws (for biting and rasping) and on the pharyngeal bones in the throat (for gripping and crushing) for eating molluscs and crustaceans.

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