The Southern Maori Wrasse can be recognised by its colour pattern and shape. It is an elongate fish that changes colour pattern with age and sex.
Juveniles and females are red-orange above and red-orange to white below. Mature males develop a black stripe along the sides, blue spots on each of the body scales, and blue scribbles on the head.
The common name of this species refers to markings on the head of adult males, which are said to resemble the facial tattoos of New Zealand Maori people.
It inhabits coastal rocky reefs. In warmer parts of its distribution, it is often seen in shallow water. In cooler, more southerly areas it is found at greater depths, sometimes down to 60 m.
The species is endemic to Australia. It occurs from southern Queensland, around the south of the country to south-western Western Australia.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Other behaviours and adaptations
The Southern Maori Wrasse is an inquisitive species that will often approach divers.
- Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life; the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544
- Gomon, M.F. & B.C. Russell. in Gomon, M.F, Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.