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These 2 fish can be close, One looks like a Christmas wrasse and the other Surge Wrass, both in their initial phase. Am I correct?
Rhoda - the initial phase of these species are TOUGH to tell apart. Especially because they are usually in about 5 feet of water zipping around like maniacs. One trick is to look for the terminal phase ones, they are pretty distinctive and easier to get a positive ID for. I usually spend 10 minutes watching these guys and only about half of the time come away with a definitive answer. Without being able to see these in person, I am hesitant to make a guess. Although I am pretty sure that the one that you have labeled as Christmas Wrasse (the more drab one) is actually a surge wrasse. According to Hoover's current book, the V/Y shape between the mouth and snout is a key for surge wrasse.
Yes, in the shallow there are so many young in their initial phase, Hoover's book is a great help. Terminal phase are easier but didn't see one. I'll work on these some more.
Yes, the fast moving behavior of the surge wrasse makes it difficult to photograph the head. We are fortunate to have a terminal phase in one of our marine protected areas that waits in the shallows for our feet to turn over rocks and expose an easy meal.
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