Wounded Wrasse, Halichoeres chierchiae
The Wounded Wrasse, Halichoeres chierchiae, whose common Spanish name is señorita herida, is a member of the Wrasse or Labridae Family, known collectively as doncellas, señoritas, and viejas in Mexico. Globally, there are seventy species in the genus Halichoeres, nineteen of which are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and nine in the Pacific.
The Wounded Wrasses have elongated compressed bodies with a depth that is 26 to 30% of standard length. Females and males of the Initial Phase (IP) are yellowish-green with a greenish-brown mid-lateral stripe intersecting with dark bars and blotches on the upper half of their body. Terminal Phase (TP) males are bluish with green blotches dorsally and yellow ventrally. They have a black blotch with a bright red patch just behind it, giving rise to their common name. Juveniles are whitish to yellow with irregular black stripes and blotches on their sides; they also have a small ocellated black spot on the middle of their dorsal fin. They have a small terminal mouth equipped with one pair of canine teeth at the front, another at the rear of their top jaw, and two pairs at the front of their bottom jaw. Their caudal fin has a blunt end and their dorsal fin has nine spines and eleven rays. Their body is covered with large scales.
The Wounded Wrasses are found in and around rocky and coral reefs and in sandy and rubble bottoms within tidal pools at depths up to 230 feet. They reach a maximum length of 20.0 cm (7.9 inches). They forage during the day and feed on brittle stars, crabs, mollusks, and sea urchins. The Wounded Wrasse is a rare and poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Wounded Wrasse are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.
The Wounded Wrasse is not easily confused with any other species due to its unique “wound” marking, but is very similar in shape to the Banded Wrasse, Halichoeres notospilus and the Spinster Wrasse, Halichoeres nicholsi.
The Wounded Wrasses are too rare and too small to be of interest to most.
Wounded Wrasse, Halichoeres chierchiae, initial phase (IP) female transitioning to terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught from shore at Buena Vista, East Cape, Baja California Sur, May 2010. Length: 15.0 cm (5.9 inches).
Wounded Wrasse, Halichoeres chierchiae, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught from shore at Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, March 2016. Length: 15.0 cm (5.9 inches).