Species Index

Thalassoma purpureum
(Forrskal, 1775)

Common Name: Surge Wrasse

Distribution: Uncommon in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region: from Red Sea and East Africa to Hawaiian, Marquesan and Easter Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Kermadec and Rapa Islands. In Australia recorded from Shark Bay and the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia, from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and northern New South Wales and including Lord Howe Island.

Ecological Notes: Frequents the surge zones of outer reef flats, reef margins and rocky coastlines. Depth 0 – 10 m.

Additional Notes: Green with red stripes and distinctive “V” shaped mask over face in front of eyes. Similar Ladder Wrasse, Thalassoma trilobatum, lacks marks on the face in the male, while the female may have spots on the head but no maskOccur in groups of mostly females dominated by a few males. Feed on small invertebrates, small fishes, echinoderms and polychaetes. Male in top photograph, IP (intermediate phase) in lower photograph. Grows to 46 cm.

References: R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.339.

Atlas of Living Australia website at Accessed 11/07/18.

FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. Accessed 11/07/18.