Napoleon Wrasse

Humphead Wrasse, Also Known As Napoleon Wrasse


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If you have never visited Koh Bon in Thailand’s Similan Islands then you are missing one of the worlds best dive sites for Giant Manta & Humphead Wrasse. These massive and I do mean massive fish can reach sizes of 2.3 Meters long and weigh up to 190 Kg, the one pictured was the largest one I’ve ever been lucky enough to see, I put it firmly in the 150 Kg range, was easily 2 Meters long, as I remember when being right beside him and thinking he was quite a bit longer that I was.

Humphead Wrasse are also more commonly know as Napoleon Wrasse, but their correct identification if that of a Humphead, one of the largest of reef fish. The day I took this photo was extremely clear waters, possibly 50 Meters and this majestic Humphead was in the shallow water with a much smaller friend or possibly mate, so with good natural lighting and clear water I figured I’d never get a better chance at getting him on film.

I remember trying to get close to him a few times, but he was keeping at least 10 meters from me at all times, I’ve had a lot of experience approaching larger marine animals and all my little tricks this day were not working. After a while I saw him go over what we call the West Ridge and into current, also into a massive wall of approaching bubbles, instinct and experience told me he would make a quick return the way he had come to avoid the onslaught of frantically approaching divers, this gave me the opportunity to position myself close to the ridge and stay dead still.

Thankfully it didn’t take long for him to return, he swam almost into me at one point, I think he was trying to rotate his eyes to watch what was behind him, not what was in front, when he spotted me, I was probably only 50cm from him, I didn’t want to startle him so I stayed still, he veered to my left and I got this shot. So just remember, sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s experience, sometimes it’s a little bit of both.

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