Common Name: Painted comber
Scientific Names: Serranus scriba
Description: The Painted combers found around Malta are usually 10-15cm long. They have a grouper-like body with a number of paired vertical black bars along the body, a blue blotch on the abdomen and a yellowish tail.
Distinctive Features: The large, light blue, almost iridescent blotch on its flank is one of the clearest identification features found in all of Malta’s marine life.
Abundance: Solitary or in small groups. At every site from shallows to diving depths, with 5+ seen per dive.
Habitat & Behaviour: Over rocky reefs and sandy, boulder strewn seabeds where they occupy cracks and crevices. They follow other species which are feeding, including Painted Wrasse and octopuses.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: They are initially inquisitive and hold their ground, but they will then swim off and then turn once again to assess you.
Other Notes: They can often be seen spraying their white, sandy faeces in great clouds as they swim!
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Luke Adshead