Chris Hancock

Gomphosus varius x Thalassoma duperrey
Family Labridae
     Hybrids between the Bird Wrasse and several wrasses of the genus Thalassoma have been known for years, though they are certainly not common. Chris Hancock took this rare photo of a probable initial phase Bird Wrasse / Saddle Wrasse hybrid feeding alongside normal Saddle Wrasses at the "First Cathedral" dive site off Lanai, depth about 65 ft. Note the Bird Wrasse's color: mostly blue-green with vertical reddish marks on each scale, similar to the Saddle Wrasses behind it. Normal IP Bird Wrasses are whitish and black, not blue green. While it's true that terminal phase (supermale) Bird Wrasses are blue and green, and that therefore this photo might represent an initial phase Bird Wrasse transforming to the terminal phase, the orange snout and lack of sharp demarcation of light and dark on the body argue against this. Below is a photo of what appears to be a supermale Bird Wrasse / Saddle Wrasse hybrid that I tookwhile snorkeling at Waiopae Tidepools on the Big Island. (also called Kapoho Tidepools).
    Normally, fishes belonging to different genera (Gomphosus and Thalassoma) would not be expected to hybridize, but Gomphosus is so similar to Thalassoma in everything but the long snout that some ichthyologists feel it should be included under Thalassoma.

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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover