P. Labrax, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 482. Don. Brit. Fish. vol. ii. pl. 43. Flem. Brit. An. p. 213. Scisena Labrax, Block, Ichth. pl. 301. Labrax Lupus, Cuv. et Vol. Poiss. torn. ii. p. 41. pl. 11. Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 133. Basse, Will. Hist. Pise. p. 271. tab. R. 1. Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 257. pl. 49. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. in. p. 348. pl. 60. Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i. p. 6.
From one to two feet.
(Form). Resembling the Perch, but more elongated; the back not so high: greatest depth a little behind the ventrals, equalling one-fourth of the length, caudal excluded: line of the back somewhat concave beneath the first dorsal, and convex beneath the second: head nearly one-fourth of the entire length, including caudal: lower jaw longest; strong card-like teeth on the intermaxillary, vomer, and palatines; on the sides, and towards the root, of the tongue, teeth like velvet: head smooth; cheeks covered with small scales: preopercle large; the serratures on the ascending margin more developed than in the Perch; the basal margin with three strong spines: opercle triangular, the posterior angle armed with two strong flattened spines: lateral line curved, descending a little from the upper angle of the opercle to beneath about the middle of the first dorsal, then passing off straight to the caudal: first dorsal commencing a little behind the ventrals: the fourth and fifth rays equal and longest, those on each side gradually decreasing: second dorsal immediately after the first; first ray spinous, not half the length of the succeeding ones; third longest; the others gradually decreasing: space between the second dorsal and the base of the caudal equal to that occupied by the former fin: anal similar to the second dorsal, but placed a little more backward, with the three first rays spinous, gradually increasing in length: caudal a little forked: pectorals somewhat less than half the length of the head, covered at their base with small scales; the first ray simple, and shorter than the others: ventrals a little behind the pectorals, equal to them in length; the first ray spinous: number of rays in the respective fins;
D. 9 - 1/12; A. 3/11; C. 17; P. 17; V. 1/5.
* I have adopted throughout the same kind of formula, by which to express the number of fin-rays, as that employed by MM. Cuvier and Valenciennes.
Number of vertebrae twenty-six. (Colours). Back and sides dusky gray, with a paler spot in the middle of each scale; lower portion of the sides, and abdomen, white, slightly silvery; cheeks and gill-covers with a faint yellowish tinge; posterior portion of the opercle almost black, forming a dark patch on that part: dorsal and caudal fins deep lead-gray; anal the same, tipped with whitish; pectorals pale gray; ventrals nearly white.
Met with occasionally on different parts of the coast, particularly southward, and likewise in the estuaries of rivers, but seldom in any great plenty. Common in the Mediterranean, where it attains a much larger size than in the British seas. Said to be very voracious. Obs. Pennant states that in the young of this species the space above the side-line is marked with small black spots: the same remark is made by Cuvier and others; but certainly in the larger number of British specimens there is no indication of these spots whatever.
(3. Serranus, Cuv).