The top photograph shows the Corkwing
Wrasse in its swimming livery. The black spot in the centre preceding the
caudal fin is definitive. No other British wrasse has a round spot in the
When sleeping at night the Corkwing Wrasse adopts
a different appearance. The definitive black spot is obscured by vertical
black bars as shown in the photograph, which is the same fish as in the
top photograph. The sleeping livery is how this fish changes colour when
in danger and it is how it looks when captured in a net.
This has caused a great deal of confusion to novice
who think they have two different species.
Small Ballan Wrasse are
also caught in shore pools.
Similar species: Rock
Cook*, Centrolabrus exoletus &
Green-eyed Wrasse, Crenilabrus ocellatus. The latter fish
is only found in the Mediterranean and can be readily distinguished from
the Corkwing, by its brightly coloured gill covers. There are several other
species in the Mediterranean. Crenilabrus
(* perhaps from from the Cornish cucu)
Nest builder. In breeding
colours, the black spot tends to be obscured by its bright colours.
Rocky shallow seas with seaweeds
Wrasse at Brown's Bay, north of Cullercoats,
Tyneside, in NE England.
All around the British Isles and further afield
south to the Mediterranean. Its distribution around eastern Scotland may
Size in the River Adur outer
estuary, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex: to 14 cm (excluding the tail
fin) and a weight of 70 grams (2½ oz).
(11 oz 4 dms) 318 g (1974,
T R Woodman, Portland Bill, Dorset )
Ref: Potts, G.W., 1974. the colouration
and its behavioural significance in the corkwing wrasse, Crenilabrus
melops. J Mar. Biol. ass. of the UK 54 925-938.
Corkwing Wrasse habitually fight to the death if kept together in an
Further Notes web page
Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with
location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common
name and any other details to
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