Common Name: Picarel
Scientific Names: Spicara smaris
Description: A small, slim cylindrical fish up to about 15cm long. The basic colour of the fish varies from bluish to silvery, but there is always a prominent black spot in the middle on either side. At night the colouration changes and it becomes much more mottled in appearance and the black spot can fade.
Distinctive Features: The black spot in the middle of the body is very characteristic.
Abundance: In shoals, but these can be quite small. Not common, we saw it on a third of our sessions.
Habitat & Behaviour: In Maltese waters they can be seen feeding with other shoaling fish in the water column, but they also feed on seabed species and over sea grass meadows. On night dives they can be seen just above the sea bed.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Shy and wary of snorkellers.
Other Notes: The Mendole (Spicara maena) and the Garizzo (Spicara flexuosa) are both very similar to the Picarel and telling them apart underwater is difficult. The Picarel has a slimmer (i.e. less deep between back and belly) body than the other two.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Bob Earll
Video: Bob Earll