Common Name: Grey mullet
Scientific Names: Chelon, Liza, Mugil and Oedalechilus species.
Description: Individuals from several centimetres to 30-40cm long but shoals consist of similar sized individuals. They all have a very similar mullet shape (see the photo) and prominent pectoral fins which are often seen sticking out at a rather odd angle. They are silvery usually with dark longitudinal stripes that not clearly evident in moving fish.
Distinctive Features: Remarkably indistinctive silvery fish, with pectoral fins set rather high on the body. The fact that they are so common is one of their most distinctive characteristics.
Abundance: In shoals of up to 100+ fish. Snorkellers will see many shoals of mullet during a session (20+), and although they are most obvious near the surface they are also very common when diving. Seen on every dive.
Habitat & Behaviour: They frequent all the main seabed habitats from rocky reefs to sediments and sea grass beds and feed both on the seabed and up in the water column.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Wary of surface diving snorkellers, less so of divers.
Other Notes: Shoals of juveniles move busily from rock to rock grazing and when seen from above may appear as brownish fish with a pale underside. Watch for one to roll onto its side when its silvery sides and dark longitudinal stripes show up.
At least eight species of Grey mullet have been found in the Mediterranean (including two exotics)and for all practical purposes they are very difficult to tell apart underwater.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Luke Adshead