European Seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax

The European Seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is a primarily ocean-going fish that occasionally enters brackish and fresh waters. It can also be known as the sea dace. As it is highly regarded as a table fish, it is often marketed as Mediterranean Seabass, bronzini or branzini.

There has been some ferocious debate in Britain within the recent years as to the origin of the word “seabass”. The traditional word was “bass” but that has changed with the recent popularity of cooking programs and the expansion of restaurant marketing, both of which have adopted the term “seabass”. There is only one type of bass within the British Isles and therefore, the expression “seabass” is most likely unnecessary, although the largemouth bass native to North America has been widely stocked within Southern Europe with substantial breeding populations in many rivers and lakes in southwestern France. Therefore, the distinction is legitimate in a European context.

This bass is a member of the Moronidae family. The name Dicentrarchus comes from the presence of two dorsal fins. The coloration on the sides is silver and the belly is white. The juvenile fish feature black spots on their back and sides, a trait that can produce confusion with Dicentrarchus punctatus. This fish’s operculum is serrated and has spines. It is capable of growing to a total length of over 3.3 feet long and weighs 15 kilograms.

Its habitats include lagoons, estuaries, coastal waters, and rivers. It can be found in the waters around and in Europe, including the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

It hunts mostly at night, feeding on small fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, and polychaetes.

Image Caption: Dicentrarchus labrax. Credit: Citron/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)