Common Name: European parrotfish
Scientific Names: Sparisoma cretense
Description: Both juveniles and larger adult fish growing up to 30cm, may be seen. They have a stocky oval body. The colour is variable with males predominantly grey and females bright red to brownish, with a large grey patch and smaller yellow blotches. The juveniles are every version of this colour mix but exhibit the same shape and method of swimming.
Distinctive Features: The way they swim by ‘rowing’ along with their pectoral fins is very distinctive. Beak-like mouth.
Abundance: They are generally found as adults in small social shoals of up to 10 fish. There may be as many as 5-10 such groups at a site. As juveniles they are often seen as solitary fish or in small groups, again at every site.
Habitat & Behaviour: They are found over rocky reefs where they feed by scraping the surface of the rocks and in seagrass beds. They are always busy darting here and there as they feed. They form social groups composed of females with a dominant male. It is the larger females that change sex to become males.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: They are wary of both surface diving snorkellers and of divers.
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: Julia Jagoditsch