When it comes to reef fish, Gerald Allen is a world renowned ichthyologist, diver and all around messiah of all marine fishes. So when Dr. Allen writes a rave review about a particular place in the world, you better take note, such as the case of his recent description of a very special place in West Papua called Flasher Beach.
Flasher wrasses are the undisputed little treasures of the reef, coming in a myriad of stunning colors, with beyond-gaudy accessories to their finnage such as filaments and metallic colors to make the males really stand out. Living up to their namesake, male flasher wrasses spend approximately all their waking hours trying to court their drab female counterparts to spawn.
As you might imagine, Flasher Beach is a location where tons of flasher wrasses congregate but this particularly special dive site is geographically gifted, being at Triton Bay in West Papua Indonesia where no fewer than three species of Paracheilinus can be found living sympatrically.
Both Paracheilinus cyaneus, P. flavianalis and the relatively newer and highly coveted Paracheilinus nursalim all co-occur at Flasher Beach. In the male’s frenzy to “get their groove” on they accidentally mate with pretty much any of the willing females which leads to lots of interesting hybridization.
We have reported on the occurrence of flasher wrasse hybrids before but Flasher Beach is special not only for the abundance of said Paracheilinus hybrids, but also for the number of species involved, and Gerald Allen thinks so too. [Bird’s Head Seascape]