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Author: (Linnaeus, 1758)

Symphodus (Crenilabrus) melops (Linnaeus, 1758)

Diagnosis: body rather deep. Head length equal to or longer than body depth. Snout shorter than post-orbital. Mouth rather small. Teeth (4-6/5-10). A few (7-12) cephalic pores on snout. Lips with 5 7 folds. Dorsal finrays XIV XVII + 8-10; anal finrays III + 8-11. Scales along lateral line 31-37, on temporo- occipital surface 3-5; rows of scales above lateral line 4.5-5.5, on inter-operculum 2-3 (6 13 scales), on cheek 4-7, behind eye 1. Gillrakers 13-16. Vertebrae 32-34. Colour: very variable. Both sexes: a crescent-like dark brown, black, dark reddish or dark blue mark behind eye (sometimes not very evident), and usually a small dark spot on caudal peduncle, just below lateral line. Often 5 large brown blotches near dorsal fin. Females and juveniles: brown or greenish-brown, with numerous spots on body more or less longitudinally lined, some sinuous lines on head and 5 blotches on dorsal fin. Adult females with a prominent dark blue urogenital papilla. Males more brightly coloured; in spawning season often grey-greenish conspicuously red marbled, with red sinuous stripes on head. Size: to 28 cm SL, usually 15-20 cm.

Habitat: littoral, near rocks and eel-grass beds (1-30 m), lagoons. Behaviour: more or less gregarious, old and young specimens mixed. Seaweed nest built by male among rocks or in crevices. Food: molluscs, hydroids, bryozoans, tubicolous worms and various crustaceans. Reproduction: North Sea and English Channel in May-July. North-western Mediterranean in March-May (June). Sex reversal sometimes observed. Sexually mature: in Mediterranean when 2-3 years old (females 7-10 cm, males 13-15 cm), in Atlantic when 3 years old (15-17 cm). Age and growth: to 8-9 years. Rate of growth faster in males than in females. When 5 years old, Roscoff (France) males 20.5 cm, females 17 cm; Sete (France) males 19 cm, females 16.5 cm.

Distribution: from Norway to Morocco, the Azores, Western Mediterranean and Adriatic. Doubtful in south-eastern Mediterranean.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Holt, 1899: 61, pl. 5 (fig. 49) (as Ctenolabrus) | Hefford, 1910: 44, pl. 1 (fig. 4, 8-8a) (as Labrus mixtus) | Ford, 1922: 693, fig. 2 & 5 | Quignard, 1967: 355, fig. 1-6.
Otoliths (sagitta). Sanz Echeverría, 1937: 36, pl. 2 (fig. 11-14) | Chaine, 1942: 48, pl. 3.

Corkwing (Symphodus melops)