Anal with fifteen soft rays: fifty-one vertebrae.
A. Presbyter, Cuv. Reg. An. torn. if. p. 235. A. Hepsetus, Don. Brit. Fish. vol. iv. pl. 87. Flem. Brit. An. p. 217. Atherine, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 328. pl. 65. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. iii. p. 434. pl. 76. Atherine, or Sand-Smelt, Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i. p. 214.
From four to six inches.
(Form). Elongated; head and back in nearly the same horizontal line; abdomen rather more convex: greatest depth one-sixth of the entire length; thickness two-thirds of the depth: snout short; lower jaw projecting beyond the upper, and ascending to meet it at an angle of forty-five degrees with the axis of the body: mouth very protractile; both jaws, as well as the vomer and base of the tongue, with very fine velvet-like teeth; pharyngeans rather stronger: eyes large; their diameter contained two and a half times in the length of the head; distance from them to the end of the snout equalling scarcely more than half their diameter; space between, and upper part of the snout, with several longitudinal ridges and corresponding depressions: first dorsal commencing a little before the middle; its length rather less than its height; spines weak and slender; second and third longest: second dorsal remote, longer and more elevated than the first; first ray spinous; the rest soft; second longest: anal answering to second dorsal, but somewhat longer than that fin, commencing a little in advance of it: caudal deeply forked: pectorals a little shorter than the head: ventrals shorter than the pectorals, and about in a line with the tips of those fins when laid back:
B. 6; D. 7 to 9 - 1/12; A. 1/15; C. 17; P. 15; V. 1/5: vent a little behind the middle. Number of vertebrae fifty-one. (Colours). A longitudinal silver band on each side, running straight from behind the eye to the commencement of the caudal, b6unded above by a narrow dusky or purplish line; breadth of the band about one-sixth of the depth: back, and portion of the sides above the band, pellucid grayish white, freckled with black; along the dorsal ridge an interrupted yellowish line: belly, and portion of the sides beneath the band, pellucid white, without spots: above the snout, and between the eyes, yellowish, spotted with black: fins pellucid, with minute black specks: irides silvery white.
According to Cuvier, the present genus, like the last, embraces several species hitherto confounded by naturalists. Our British specimens, at least those found on the southern coast, whence the individuals were obtained which furnished the above description, appear to belong to his A. Presbyter. Not uncommon at East Bourne and Brighton, where they are termed Sand-Smelts. Taken in most abundance during the spring months. Spawn in May and June. According to Pennant and Donovan, they are also found at Southampton and on the coast of Devonshire. Obs. The Atherine of Bloch (pl. 393. f. 3). is probably distinct from our British species.