Stethojulis bandanensis juv? photo by Nanette Harter taken off Maui

Stethojulis bandanensis Bleeker, 1851
     Several of these interesting juvenile wrasses appeared off Maui in February-March 2005. They were first noticed amd photographed by Nanette Harter who didn't think they looked quite like juveniles of our common Belted Wrasse (Stethojulis balteata). Dr. John E. Randall, of the Bishop Museum, identified them from her photos as possibly a juvenile Redshoulder Wrasse (Stethojulis bandanensis), based on the small orangish spot above the pectoral axil. However, he did not commit himself.
    S. bandanensis occurs throughout the tropical Pacific except for Hawai`i. It has never before been recorded from Hawai`i.

    Nanette and her friends continued to monitor these juveniles until they disappeared around the end of March. Below is a shot of two of the Maui fish, taken by photographer Fernando Arbarello. Under it, a photo by Rudie H. Kuiter of a bandanensis juvenile from Sydney, Australia (scanned from his book "Fairy and Rainbow Wrasses and their Relatives"). Finally, for comparison, I include a picture of a juvenile Hawaiian Belted Wrasse, taken off O`ahu. Notice the light yellow spot above the pectoral axil, typical of balteata.
    Are Nanette's fish really bandanensis? You will have to judge for yourself. If they are, likely they are just "waifs" which drifted in as larvae, maybe from Japan, and managed to survive for some months before perishing. It's unusual, though, to find two or three waifs together. More might be in Hawai`i somewhere, and a few of them might grow to maturity and reproduce. If anyone sees any more of these guys, please let me know.

March 2006: Since I wrote the above I have seen a few of these "juvenile bandanensis" myself and I now believe they are just color variants of balteata.

Stethojulis bandanensis juv? photo by Fernando Arbarello taken off Maui
Stethojulis bandanensis juv - photo by Rudie H. Kuiter taken near Sydney, Australia

Stethojulis balteata juv - taken off O`ahu.
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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover