Sunday, June 19, 2011

One more reason to go to Palau

I got a message from someone in Guam this morning asking to confirm that these photos on the Gone to Guam blog were taken on Saipan. Yup, that's Obyan Beach. And yup, that's a dead Napoleon wrasse. The blog was posted on June 12, 2011.

The Humphead (Napoleon) wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus, was listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – for more information see: http://www.cites.org/) in October of 2004. It was listed because it is considered to be actually or potentially threatened by current exploitation levels or disturbances if these persist.

The species is assessed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The total global catch of this species is estimated to be no more than 400 mt annually (Sadovy et al. 2003), yet despite this low volume, severe declines are noted in all places for which data are available and where management is not effective. The global populations of this species have declined 50% in the last 30 years. The threat to this species is so great that it is one of the only reef fish protected by name over a range of countries, including Palau, but not the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam.

I dove often and frequently on Saipan between 2006-2010. I saw exactly one Napoleon wrasse. On a recent trip to Palau, I saw about 15 at Blue Corner and 2 at Helmut Wreck.

Family and cultural connections aside, where do you think I would prefer to go diving? Where do you think tourists would rather spend their money?

The species is not protected in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, but it should be. And, yes, I care more about the natural heritage of the Chamorro people than the ego of a single fisherman.

2 comments:

Gone To Guam said...

The tangisson is definitely my favorite large fish. Truly a stunning animal with an amazing personality. I also enjoyed seeing them (and bumphead parrotfish, awesome sharks and so much more) at Blue Corner recently. I was not aware of their threatened status (although that's just naivete on my part; of course a fish with a long life cycle, friendly demeanor and tasty flesh would be threatened) in areas outside of the NMI and Guam. I wonder what it would take to extend that protection to us?

Thanks for the info and the reminder that others besides my dad read my blog... :-)

DFB said...

If the napoleon wrasse is so important to the aboriginal culture and the fish becomes extinct, does the culture also become extinct?

Perhaps the campaign to protect the fish should use a poster made to look like a tourism poster with an under water shot of a missing Napoleon Wrasse.

________________________________
| |
| DIVE SAIPAN! |
| |
| MEET |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| NAPOLEON WRASSE |
| (tangisson) |
| |
| |
|_______________________________|