With talks of endangered species reaching critical levels in debates and discussions around the globe, Fiji too share similar scenarios. The more we seem to know about everything else, the less we get to learn more about endangered species.
You'd be surprised to hear the number of endangered species here locally both plants and animals. It is said that talking about these endangered species more helps carries the information across, hence more people knowing about it, even if it means repeating it.
So for this week's waterfront edition we reiterate the need for awareness and take heed of the fundamental signs of Fiji's endangered species.
The Mamanuca Environment Society website explains that Fiji currently has a number of organisms included in the Endangered Species List. Some of these organisms include marine turtles, Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum), humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulates), triton trumpet snail (Charonia tritonis), and humpback whales. The Fiji's Department of Fisheries has also listed a few species of concern which according to them are at risk of being wiped out. These include the lamp shell and the cowry shell, especially the golden cowry. MES works with the Institute of Marine Resources in tackling issues relating turtle conservation in the region.
In this particular edition we look at the kelia, scientific name Bolbometopon muricatum and the Varicoce, scientific name Cheilinus undulatus
The Mananuca Environment Society states that the 'kelia' is also called the The bumphead parrotfish is the largest of all parrotfish, growing to a length of about 1.3m and 46kg in weight. Adults develop a bulbous forehead and their teeth plates are usually exposed. They are herbivorous but tend to graze on a substantial amount of live coral, and in doing so, also contribute to the bio-erosion of reefs. This species is slow-growing, long-living and has a delayed reproduction stage and slow replenishment rate. Despite having a wide range, their population has been on a decline throughout their range because of heavy exploitation. Over harvesting threatens its survival and its numbers are heading towards extinction.
Bumphead parrotfish are commonly found in the day in coral reef habitats, especially in fringing or barrier reefs around depths of 3-10m. At night, they usually sleep in groups on shallow sandy bottoms or in caves, making them very vulnerable to stressors. The juveniles are usually found in seagrass beds in the lagoons. It is a valuable commodity in the live fish trade but catches have decreased dramatically over the years because of the divers taking advantage of its behaviour of sleeping in reefs in the night
The website says the 'varivoce' or adult humphead wrasse develops a prominent hump on the forehead and has thick lips. Like the bumphead parrotfish, they are also slow growing and long living, they have a delayed reproduction rate and low productivity. The species is a protogynous-hermophrodite with female-to-male sex change, which makes it more susceptible to overfishing, compared to species that do not have any sex change at all.
The Humphead wrasse has a patchy distribution pattern, with adults often found at the outer reef slope, channel slopes and lagoon reefs at water depths ranging from 3-100m. Adults do not move much over a given patch of reef but periodically move to local spawning aggregation sites where they concentrate at certain times of the year that correspond with certain lunar phases. Juveniles tend to prefer a more hidden existence.
As in the case of the bumphead parrotfish, the humphead wrasse population has been threatened too by overharvesting and loss of habitats of juveniles through coral reef destruction and other disturbances.