(I. ScivENA, CUV).
S. Aquila, Cuv. et Vol. Poiss. torn. v. p. 21. pl. 100. Neill in Edinb. New Phil. Journ. Apr. 1826. p. 135. Flem. Brit. An. p. 213. S. Umbra, Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 172. The Maigre, Yarr. Brit. Pish. vol. i. p. 90.
From three to five, sometimes six feet.
(Form). General appearance resembling that of the Basse (Perca Labrax;): head one-fourth of the entire length; greatest depth rather more than one-fifth: profile descending obliquely, inclining to convex at the nape, concave at the forehead: snout blunt and slightly protuberant: each jaw with a row of sharp, somewhat hooked teeth, separate from each other, with several smaller ones amongst them in the lower, behind them in the upper jaw: none on the tongue, vomer, or palatines: preopercle with the posterior margin denticulated when young, but not afterwards: opercle terminating in two flat, but rather sharp points, with an emargination between: first dorsal with the third spine longest, equalling half the depth of the body: second dorsal more than twice the length of the first, immediately behind it, the membrane of the latter continuous with that of the former: pectorals and ventrals nearly one-sixth of the entire length: anal very small in proportion to the second dorsal, with only one slender spinous ray almost concealed in the edge of the fin, and eight soft ones: caudal with seventeen branched Tays: number of rays altogether,
D. 9 - 1/27 or 28; A. 1/8; C. 17; P. 16; V. 1/5: lateral line nearly parallel to the back: the whole head and body covered with scales; those on the back and sides large, deeply imbricated, and set obliquely to the axis of the body. Number of vertebrae twenty-four. (Colours). Of a uniform silvery gray, inclining to brownish on the back, and to white on the belly: first dorsal, pectorals, and ventrals, red; the other fins reddish brown. Cuv.
Common in the Mediterranean, where it attains a large size. Has not occurred in the British seas in more than four or five instances. One specimen recorded by Mr. Neill as having occurred off the Shetland coasts in November 1819. A second taken in the seine, at Start Bay, on the south coast of Devon, in August 1825*. A third, taken on the coast of Northumberland, is in the possession of Mr. J. Hancock of Newcastle. A fourth is mentioned by Mr. Yarrell as having occurred on the Kentish coast in November 1834. Said to swim in shoals, and when taken, to make a low grumbling noise like the Gurnards. Air-bladder, according to Cuvier, very large, extending the whole length of the abdomen, and remarkable for its branched lateral appendages. Obs. This species has been much misunderstood, and confounded with others by many authors, especially by Willughby, Artedi, and Linnaeus, whose descriptions in consequence are rendered of no value. It is the only Europsean species belonging to this sub-genus.
According to an extract from the Minute-Book of the Linnaean Society, (Linn. Trans, vol. xvi. p. 751). dated Nov. 20, 1827, a specimen of this fish, weighing one hundred weight, has been taken in the river Exe. As, however, there has been much confusion with respect to the species of this family, it is possible that this British individual may not have been different from the Sci&na Aquila described above. According to Cuvier, the Umbrina is never found so large as this last species, though it often exceeds two feet in length. It is common on the coasts of Prance, Spain, and Italy, and is easily distinguished by a short barbule attached to the symphysis of the lower jaw.