Common Name: Silversides
Description: Small 10-15 cm long. With a Sardine/Herring- like shape and often very silvery body colouration. They can be very distinctive in their colours but because they are difficult to photograph they have not been well described from their living features as seen in the water in this area by snorkellers and divers.
This is a collective group covering a number of species (5+) which are very common in Maltese waters but very difficult to identify with confidence whilst snorkelling and diving.
The video clips show: Firstly, the flashing silver sides in a shoal. Secondly, a species called Bogue – Boops boops. Thirdly, an unidentified species.
Distinctive Features: Their distinctive ‘Sardine’ like shape and often glistening ‘silver sides’.
Abundance: They are often present in shoals of huge (uncountable) numbers, for example at Dwera at the end of the window. They are present at virtually every site.
Habitat & Behaviour: These are species of the water column far above the sea bed although the diver will often see them orientating to landscape-scale features such as reefs because of the effect of these structures on water movement. They move around in groups or shoals, often reacting as one to perceived threats. One of the video clips shows two silver flashes as the shoals move together.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Wary to indifferent.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Julia Jagoditsch