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Author: (Linnaeus, 1758)

Thalassoma pavo (Linnaeus, 1758)

Diagnosis: body slender and compressed. Head length equal to or less than body depth. Preorbital shorter than post-orbital. Preoperculum smooth. One row of thin, hooked, canine-like teeth, front one larger. No hind canine. A few cephalic pores. Dorsal finrays VIII + 12-13; anal finrays III + 10-12. Outermost caudal finrays prolonged in adults. Scales rather large and thin. Head and base of dorsal and anal fins scaleless. Scales along lateral line 26-31, each with 3 pores; rows of scales 2 1/2-4 1/2 above lateral line. Gill arch with 15-20 rather slender rakers. Vertebrae 25. Colour: males: body green brownish, with numerous darker vertical lines (each scale vertically marked). Head dark red with a reticulate blue pattern. A conspicuous blue vertical stripe, from base of dorsal fin to belly, behind pectoral fin base, often outlined with red, especially on rear edge. Blue, black and dark red longitudinal bands along fins. Females and juveniles: body brown greenish, with numerous darker vertical lines and 5 more conspicuous blue vertical bands. Head brownish with reticulate blue lines. Fins with blue, dark and reddish longitudinal stripes. Size: to 25 cm SL, usually 15-20 cm.

Habitat: littoral, near rocks and eel-grass beds (1-150 m, usually 1-50 m). Behaviour: solitary, sometimes in small groups. Food: small molluscs and crustaceans. Reproduction: south coasts of Mediterranean in June-July. Pelagic eggs.

Distribution: in the Mediterranean, off the Azores and Madeira and from Portugal southwards to Cape Lopez.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Sparta, 1933: 3, fig. 16-23; 1956: 589, fig. 464-468.
Otoliths (sagitta). Chaine, 1942: 100, pl. 5.

Ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo)