A tail of 17 wrasses…

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    Learning to identify the 150 fish species we monitor on the reefs is quite a challenge, and as part of their training volunteers each have to prepare a fish presentation for the group on one of the many families.

    A tail of 17 wrasses (in the order they appear in Collins)

    According to Collins wrasses are diverse in size and form
    So unfortunately there is no wrasse norm
    First up is the lyre-tailed hog
    Half of it’s white, so think of it as if caught in a very small fog
    The only other hog is known as the axil-spot
    This is because three black spots it has got
    Next up is the hump head wrasse
    Rumour has it the hump was caused by a nasty incident with a bass
    The reason I failed a test is a wrasse called sling-jaw
    It looks nothing like what was in Collins and it might as well have had a paw!
    The yellow-tail and white spotted wrasses you could easily confuse
    Remember that the yellowtail has spots in blue hues

    Then there’s a wrasse that is called the yellow breast
    Purely between you and me itís not in the computer test
    I realised I’d left the triple tail wrasse out at the very last minute
    So this poem has nothing about it in it.

    The checkerboard wrasse is easy and it lives up to its name
    You could lay it on a table, and have a little game
    The zigzag wrasse has a black wavy line in the middle
    It looks like it was finished then someone had another fiddle
    The barred thick lip wrasse is a bit of a weird catch
    It’s coloured head and black-and-white body don’t match
    Wrasses called Indian Ocean bird look a bit like mice
    If you show one to Max, deep down he might say they look ëniiiceí
    Easy to know is the gold bar wrasse
    Just look at the base of its head and think lots of cash
    The crescent wrasse has a colourful head but most of it’s green
    I got it confused with a parrot but realised it looks a lot less mean
    The six bar wrasse has six black bars
    Another distinguishing feature is its red striped head
    The cleaner wrasses look similar but you can be quite mellow
    Just by remembering that the bicoloured one’s tail is yellow
    The blue streak cleaner you’ll be pleased to know is the seventeenth wrasse
    Good luck to everybody, I hope you’ll pass
    Just one more bit of wrasse-related knowledge
    Wrasses in the rear-view mirror may appear smaller than in Collins

    Elina HolttoÖ, Finnish volunteer
    Six Bar Wrasse
    Blue Ventures

    About Blue Ventures

    Blue Ventures are an award winning marine conservation charity. On our Beyond Conservation blog you can hear voices from the front line of marine conservation.


    1. Written by a true poet!! It’s too bad this poem still didn’t help me pass the fish test!