Spicara smaris (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spicara smaris image

Synonyms: Maena smaris (Linnaeus, 1758); Sparus alcedo Risso, 1810; Sparus smaris Risso, 1826; Sparus vulgaris Valencieennes, 1830; Smaris gracilis Bonaparte, 1836; Spicaria smaris Lazano Cabo, 1953.

Common names: Engl: Picarel; Bulg: Vretenest smarid; Rom: Smarid auriu; Russ: Smarida; Turk: Izmarit; Ukr: Smarida.

Order (Scientific): PERCIFORMES.

Family (Scientific): CENTRACANTHIDAE.

Taxonomic descriptions: Body rather elongate, its lenght comprised 5 to 6 times its heidht; snout pointed, mouth protractile; eye diameter smaller than the preorbital length; scales small; jaws bearing villiform teeth, some of the anterior ones stronger; palate smooth or nearly so (none or very few teeth); dorsal fin without a notch; pectoral fins moderately developed; dorsal fin high; back grayish-brown or grayish-yellow, with rather indistinct brown cross bands; a black rectangular blotch is present between the lateral line and the pectoral fin. Size: maximum: 20 cm (males) and 15 cm (females); common: 8-20 cm.

Spicara smaris arealIUCN Status:
    World level:
    Black Sea Regional level:
    Subregion level: DD


Habitats type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: Benthic species preferring offshore water, especially in winter; over muddy or vegetated bottoms from the littoral zone at depths of 15-170 m. Common throughout the Mediterranean Sea, also found on the Atlantic coasts from Portugal to Morocco. Rarely in the Black Sea due to the inimical conditions of its deeper waters (100-150 m), this species preferring these depths, especially in the winter. High pollution of coastal waters where the reproduction takes place.

Biology: Lives in small schools making irregular migrations; spawning during May-June near the coasts; eggs spawn on algae or bottom; the species presents a very marked sexual dimorphism, the males have brighter colours (blue-striped) and longer fins; benthic, spherical eggs are spawned on the algae. Feeds on both algae and animals (different crustaceans, molluscs, worms and small fishes); they feed very intensely also in the winter, a little less only during the reproduction season.

Population trends: Caught with trammel nets, bottom trawls and pots. On the Romanian littoral the species enter incidentally in the catches, as isolated individuals. On the Turkey littoral, the catches recorded in 1989 were of 654 t, 1990 - 1,638 t and 1991 - 339 t.

Threats: Pollution and unfavorable hydrological conditions.

Conservation measures taken: None.

Conservation measures proposed: Reduce eutrophication and pollution.


  1. Banarascu, P., 1964 - Fauna of RPR - Pisces - Osteichthyes. Edit.Acad.RPR.
  2. FAO Species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Mediterranean and Black Sea, fishing area 37. vol.I. FAO, Rome,1973.

Compiled by: G.Radu, F.Verioti.