It might not look like much, but the Social Wrasse (Halichoeres socialis), is one of the most threatened marine fishes in the world today.The Social Wrasse is tiny, adults are rarely larger than 5 cm (2 in) in length, and has a very specialized way of life. They only live in mangrove islands located in inshore waters of the barrier reef in Belize. Because of threats caused by coastal development, habitat destruction and pollution, this species was categorized as “Critically Endangered” by IUCN’s Red List, which is the highest threat category used in the Red List.
Next December, ichthyology curator Luiz Rocha will join a team from the Smithsonian Institution at the Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Cay field station to evaluate the current status of this species. The team is particularly interested in possibly negative effects caused by the invasive Lionfish, an aggressive predator from the Indo-Pacific that is spreading through the Caribbean and recently established populations in Belize.