A visit to a Maui beach brings endless warm sunshine, pristine crystal waters and added adventures when taking a dip under the surface! With endless sea life beneath the water line, snorkeling is definitely a must! One amazing creature to be seen is the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse. This little fish is common amongst the reefs at any depth, found in the coral heads and ledges. This endemic species of the islands is a sight to see, while at rest or hard at work!
The Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse young are a black shade in color with a bright blue line along the back, and after maturing transition into having a bright yellow head, with a magenta colored body possessing a thick black stripe from head to tail. Reaching up to four inches in length, this fish has a tale made of bony spines. While all are born female, some will transition to male as maturing occurs. Males are quite dominant of territory and several paired females, patrolling the area for predators and other individuals of the species. If the male of the group is removed, the most dominant female will change sex and take over in his place! These fascinating animals breed year round, and during the night settle on the ocean floor, surrounding themselves in a mucus layer, much like a cocoon, as protection against hungry predators, unlike other varieties of Wrasse which tend to bury in the sand.
What makes these sea creatures so unique and interesting, is the way that they feed, and the jobs that they have been assigned in the ocean community! The Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse host cleaning stations for other marine life, such as fish and turtles, which not only aids in the health of the “customers”, but also feeds the Wrasse! By darting around erratically, the fish notifies each waiting animal that its time to be cleaned! The other animal will remain motionless, opening its mouth and gill covers for a full, deep cleaning. The Wrasse will cover the entire body, even entering the mouth and gills with full trust! With a specially designed mouth, it can remove parasites, mucus and dead skin, a perfect snack for the Wrasse! Sea life desiring a good cleaning will repeatedly return for more, and will even wait in line. For the “customer”, a deep clean means a healthy life, and for the Wrasse, its meal time and also protection against predators!
The Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse is stunning in color, making it a perfect addition to the reef of the waters of Maui. With a unique lifestyle of work, work and more work, this species brings a key role to the ocean world. Snorkeling in the reefs of Maui can bring a possible sighting of one of these bright fish, which have even been known to try to clean humans! But if snorkeling isn’t on the to do list, a trip to the Maui Ocean Center can bring a sighting as well! Go Rent A Car Maui has vans, trucks, suv’s and sedans prepared for snorkeling expeditions or trips to the Maui Ocean Center for a peek at the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse!