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New Year New Gender

  • Wednesday 23rd January 2019

One of our Birdnose Wrasse (gomphosus varius) has jumped into the New Year with a splash by transitioning from female to male.

As protogynous hermaphrodites, all Birdnose Wrasse are born female. In order for the species to reproduce, some females change sex at one point during their lives.

As well as losing their ovaries and growing testes, the gender transition involves the Birdnose Wrasse dramatically changing colour from creamy white to dark green-blue.

According to Tom Fair, Aquarist at Sea Life Melbourne, there is no simple explanation for the sex change;

“The change is still being actively researched but we do know it is triggered by a relationship between multiple female Birdnose Wrasse when no male is present.

For example, a lone female or a female with a dominant male present will not transition,” said Tom Fair.

SEA LIFE Melbourne is home to many species of transgender fish including...

The Harlequin Tuskfish,

Humphead Maori Wrasse

and Ocellaris Clownfish

“We have several species at SEA LIFE Melbourne that change sex. The most famous is the Ocellaris Clownfish – also known as ‘Nemo’ – which is born male and can transition to female,” said Tom Fair.

Birdnose Wrasse inhabit lagoons, coral-rich areas, rocky and seaward reefs at depths of two to at least 30 metres.

They are found in the Indo-Pacific region including central Western Australia and Southern Queensland.

Dive in and check out our Birdnose Wrasse!