(1. Labrus, Cuv).
* Dorsal with twenty or twenty-one spinous rays.
Ascending margin of the preopercle oblique: soft portion of the dorsal more than twice the height of the spinous: dorsal and anal terminating nearly in the same line.
L. maculatus, Bloch, Ichth. pl. 294. L. Tinea, Shaw, Nat. Misc. vol. xi. pl 426. Id. Gen. Zool. vol. iv. p. 499. pl. 72. Don. Brit. Fish. vol. iv. pl. 83. L. Balanus, Flem. Brit. An. p. 209. Ballan Wrasse, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 246. pl. 44. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. in. p. 334. pl. 55. Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i. p. 275. La Vieille taehetee, Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 255.
From twelve to eighteen inches.
(Form). Oblong-oval, narrowing at the tail beyond the termination of the dorsal and anal fins: body thick and bulky: depth one-fourth of the entire length: back not much elevated; dorsal line nearly straight from the commencement of the dorsal fin backwards, but in advance of that point falling gradually to the snout; no depression at the nape: head one-fourth of the whole length, caudal excluded: snout short and conical: mouth very protractile; lips double, the anterior pair thick and fleshy, and partially reflexed, shewing the teeth: jaws equal: teeth rather small, conical, the anterior ones longest, amounting to about eighteen in each jaw: distance from the eye to the end of the snout equalling twice the diameter of the eye; space between the eyes convex, without any depression or sulcus, equalling two diameters and a half: preopercle with the ascending margin inclined, this last forming with the basal margin an obtuse angle: lateral line bending a little downwards beneath the termination of the dorsal fin; its previous course nearly straight at one-third of the depth: dorsal commencing at a distance from the end of the snout equalling one-fourth of the entire length; space occupied by the fin nearly equalling half the entire length; spinous portion three-fourths of the whole, the height of this part one-fourth of the depth of the body; soft portion more than twice the height of the spinous: anal commencing in a line with the soft portion of the dorsal, and terminating also nearly in the same line with that fin; first three rays spinous, stronger than the dorsal spines, shorter than the soft rays which follow: caudal slightly rounded; its base scaly, beyond which are rows of scales between the rays for one-fourth of their length: pectorals rounded, two-thirds the length of the head: ventrals a little shorter: all the fins very stout; the membranes enveloping the rays thick and fleshy:
D. 20/11; A. 3/9; C. 13; P. 15; V. 1/5.
(Colours). Back and sides bluish green, becoming paler on the belly; all the scales margined with orange-red: head and cheeks bluish green, reticulated with orange-red lines; lips flesh-colour; irides bluish green: all the fins greenish blue, with a few scattered red spots; the dorsal with spots along the base only; the blue on the caudal passing into dusky at the tip.
Not an uncommon species in the British seas. Pennant and Donovan obtained their specimens from Scarborough; where, according to the former author, " they appear during Summer in great shoals off Filey-Bridge; the largest weighing about five pounds." Donovan states that he has also received it from Cornwall; from the Skerry Islands, north of Anglesea, and from Scotland. Mr. Yarrell mentions various parts of the Irish coast, the eastern coast of England, and the shores of Dorsetshire and Devonshire, as other localities for this species. The description given above is that of a specimen in the collection of the Zoological Society, from the London market. Frequents rocky ground, and feeds principally on Crustacea. Spawns, according to Mr. Couch, in April. Obs. The colours in this, and in all the other species of this family, are liable to much variation.