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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Labrus merula Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body moderately elongate. Head broad, shorter or equal to body depth. Strong canine-like teeth (rounded in old specimens): 7-12/8-14. Lips with 6-9 folds. Soft part of dorsal fin higher than long and higher than spiny part. Dorsal finrays XVII-XIX + 11-14; anal finrays III + 8-12. Scales along lateral line 40-48, on temporo-occipital surface 15-23, on inter-operculum 0-3; rows of scales above lateral line 5.5-7.5, on cheek 5-9, behind eye 5-7. Gillrakers 16-22. Vertebrae 36-41. Colour: no sexual dimorphism. Young green with light spots or brownish, belly paler, yellowish, greyish or silvered, sometimes an opalescent blue-whitish longitudinal stripe on sides. Old specimens habitually dark blue, sometimes dark green or brownish, belly paler. Soft part of dorsal, anal and caudal fins outlined with light blue; some light blue spots on head. Size: to 45 cm SL, usually 30-40 cm.

Habitat: Iittoral (1-50 m); around rocks and seaweed. Behaviour: sometimes schooling; more solitary when older. No consistent data about nesting; eggs adhesive. Food: sea-urchins, ophiuroids, molluscs, crabs and worms. Reproduction: western Mediterranean in February May. Mature when 2 years old (15-20 cm). Age and growth: to 16-17 years. When 7 years old males measure 31.5 cm and females 30 cm.

Distribution: in Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic from Portugal to Morocco and the Azores.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. No data.
Otoliths (sagitta). Chaine, 1942: 9, 16 | Bauzá-Rullán, 1957: 5.

Brown wrasse (Labrus merula)