Other Phyla



British Marine Life Study Society

  Common Name(s):
Family Name:

Usual Size:


Black Sea-Bream  (Photograph by Bob Alexander, Weymouth)
The Black Sea Bream is rather variable in appearance, though the deep body with long dorsal and anal fins is characteristic, some individuals are much deeper-bodied than others. Young fish have silvery flanks with many pale broken lines along them and a wide dark band on the tail; adults may be silvery or dark blue-grey, almost black in mating males, and may have alternating dark and silver vertical stripes on their sides. Adults are usually 35 - 40 cm long, occasionally more. They are omnivorous, feeding on small fish and crustaceans, small encrusting animals and algae, and are usually seen and caught around rocky areas and  wrecks. 

Couch's Sea-Bream, Pagrus pagrus,

Compare with an unidentified Bream, possibly Pagrus pagrus

Notice the position of the eyes in relation to the mouth. 

28 April 2007

Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Ray Fallaize caught a record Couch's Sea-Bream, Pagrus pagrus, on rod and line from a boat in Guernsey waters. His capture has been accepted by the British Record Angling Committee. It weighed 6 lb  9 oz  7 drams (3 kg).  Its total length was 560 mm and fork length was 495 mm.
Report and Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Full Report
British Sea Angling Records
Sealord Photography
BMLSS Couch's Bream

Fishbase entry (Link)

6 September 2006

Sea Bream (Photograph by David Fenwick,Snr)
An unidentified juvenile (120 mm) sea bream was caught in the River Tamar and returned alive. The yellow horizontal broken stripes are rather distinctive. The position of the eyes in relation to the mouth rather indicates the Black Sea-Bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus, but there are other species of vagrant bream from southern seas which it could possibly be.
Report by David Fenwick (Snr)
Black Sea-Bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus, breed regularly at the eastern end of the English Channel; this is probably their northern limit for breeding, although they are found as summer migrants around much of Britain. The male excavates a depression in a sandy seabed, and the female lays her eggs into it. The eggs stick to the base of the nest, where they are fertilised and guarded fiercely by the male until they hatch. The young fish remain in the area of the nest for several weeks before dispersing. 

The Black Sea Bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus, is a protogynous hermaphrodite - female first and then becoming a male at a length of over 20 cm (I think, from memory). The White Sea Bream, Diplodus sargus, is a protandrous hermaphrodite, starting life as a male and becoming a female later in life. White Sea Bream  are found in the seas around the Channel Islands in the English Channel. 
The Sparidae employ many reproductive strategies.

Comment by Richard Lord (Guernsey) 


Additional Notes:

Black Sea Bream (Photograph by Andy Horton)

A young Black Sea-Bream
 Spondyliosoma cantharus

 Black Bream are popular with anglers, but not usually abundant enough to be fished commercially. They are also known as Old Wife. 

 I have seen plenty of small Black Sea Bream when diving out of both Littlehampton and Bognor in Sussex with sizes varying from 3 - 4 cm long up to 13 cm, but never larger. Smaller ones, up to about 10 cm, were always in loose shoals with up to 7 individuals seen at one time, but may have been part of a larger shoal. They were usually to be found over a mixed cobble, pebble and gravel seabed. 
Jane Lilley


Black Bream have returned to the seas around Mevagissey in south Cornwall this year, with four specimens caught by an angler off the Lighthouse Quay at Mevagissey and displayed in the Aquarium (05.01.06) on the quay in the harbour. 

Report by Chris Gilbertson
When swimming the fish is usually a silvery colour, but when resting at night or when caught on a hook, the fish displays black vertical barring. However, specimens seen at Anglesey Sea Zoo caught in the seas around north Wales were black. 


10 July 2005
A Black Sea Bream,Spondyliosoma cantharus, was caught on rod and line from a boat in St. Andrew's Bay, Scotland. This is a northerly capture location for fish that breeds in the English Channel and further south. 

Report by Jim Crighton
11 January 2002
Witek Mojsiewicz reports the capture of a Black Sea-Bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus, caught by MFV 'Charisma' 18 miles NW of Macduff in the Moray Firth, NE Scotland. The fish was 365 mm long and weighed 940 grams. The sea temperature was 6° C. This fish is rare this far north. Off the Sussex coast this is a common fish that supports a small fishery and the winter sea temperature only falls to 7° C.

Received 28 May 2003
My uncle M. J. Browne caught a Black Sea Bream in the Menai Straits during 1935
wt. 6 lb 8 oz (2.95 kg) it was in the Guinness Book of records for years. Eventually it was dropped...believing the fish never attained this size??????? I see now that 10 lb is even possible.
Any Comment?
Paul Browne

Angling Records: (out of date)
BREAM (Black) (Spondyliosoma cantharus

    lb  oz  dm kg  g

B 6 14 4 3 125 1977 J A Garlick, over wreck off S Devon coast
S 6 8 6 2 959 2001 Rosanne Guille, Creux Harbour, Sark, CI 
BREAM (Couch's Sea) (Pagrus pagrus)
B 6 9 7 3 302 2007 Ray Fallaize in Guernsey waters
S 2 2 1 0 966 2002 Edward Glaba, Gouliot Passage, Sark 
BREAM (Gilthead) (Sparus aurata)
B 9 15 8 4 521 1991 C J Bradford, Salcombe Estuary, Devon
S 10 5 8 4 692 1995 Colin Carr (14 yrs) Salcombe Estuary, Devon
BREAM (Pandora) (Pagellus erythrinus)
B 3 6 12 1 552 1997 C Stone, off Newquay coast, Cornwall
S 1 8 7 0 692 2001 Phillip Jewell, Helford River, Cornwall
BREAM (Ray's) (Brama brama)
B 6 3 13 2 829 1978 L/Cpl J Holland, Barra Head, Scotland
S 7 15 12 3 621 1967 G Walker, Crimdon Beach, Hartlepool
BREAM (Red) (Pagellus bogaraveo)
B 9 8 12 4 330 1974 B Reynolds, off Mevagissey, Cornwall
S 4 7 0 2 012 1979 A Salmon, Alderney Lighthouse, CI

National Federation of Sea Anglers

Gilthead Bream  Sparus aurata

Gilthead Bream 
Photograph by Brian Davy
Caught 2 June 2014
I caught several of these years ago (pre-2014) in the Salcombe estuary.
Comment by Brian Davy

In 1967 I sent an unfamiliar fish to Alwyne Wheeler for identification. It had been caught in a trawl off Worthing, West Sussex, after strong southerly gales in late October. Alwyne Wheeler identified the fish as a Gilthead Bream. It weighed 1.13 kg. Since then, two more specimens have been recorded, one in November 1968, from a trammel net off Littlehampton, and the other was noticed in the Brighton fish market in 1971. It was caught by a local boat.

This fish is a southerly species caught occasionally off the Cornish and Devon coasts, but rarely caught east of the Isle of Wight. 
by the late John Barker (Shoreham)


Saupe or Salema, Sarpa salpa

30 April 2009
A Saupe, Sarpa salpa, was caught by the Looe trawler Guiding Light II, skipper Andy Giles about six miles south of the Eddystone reef (i.e.about 16 miles south of Plymouth). The specimen was 370 mm long, the body plump but elongated with ten longitudinal yellow stripes. This Sea Bream (Sparidae) has only been recorded once before in British seas at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands (on Zostera beds at a spring tide) in 1983

List of NE Atlantic Sparidae
c. 20 September 2001
There have been several reports of unusual Sea Breams (family: Sparidae) from around the Channel Islands. Shore angler Kevin Frain caught a Gilthead Bream, Sparus aurata, and there was a report of a White Sea Bream, Diplodus sargus, from St. Helier Marina, Jersey. Neither of these catches have been verified by an expert or confirmed by a photograph but they are likely to be accurate. 

Pandora Bream, Pagellus erythrinus

Pandora Bream 
Photograph by Brian Davy
Caught 23 April 2014

Comment by Brian Davy

8 October 2001
A Pandora Bream, Pagellus erythrinus, was caught by angler Phillip Jewell in the River Helford estuary, Cornwall. This is one of the rarer summer visitor sea breams (Family: Sparidae) to the English Channel. This was a new British angling record and the fish weighed in at 692 grams.

Red Sea Bream (=Backspot Sea Bream),  Pagellus bogaraveo

28 January 2008 
Guernsey commercial fisherman Rick Ferbrache brought me a Red Sea Bream (=Backspot Sea Bream), Pagellus bogaraveo, caught off Portinfer Bay on the north-west coast of Guernsey.  It weighed 454 grams and was 32.6 cm long (total length).

Red Sea Bream, Copyrighted Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Red Sea Bream were common in Guernsey waters until 1984 and then they disappeared.  During the last year or so they have been making a comeback to Guernsey waters.

Report and Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sealord Photography

Bogue, Boops boops

13 January 2014

Fisherman Mike Ould (on FV Bronco TH74) landed a 39 cm long silvery sea bream (Sparidae) called a Bogue, Boops boops, fishing inshore off Babbacombe, south Devon, on the east facing coast. This Mediterranean fish is a scarce discovery off the British coast but there does seem to be a population in Babbacombe Bay and shallow seas around Devon and Cornwall as well as around the Channel Islands. The fish appears in small schools so where there is one, there are most likely more of them. 

Report & Photographs by Rachel Irish (Marine Management Organisation MMO at Brixham)

30 October 2012
A silvery sea bream (Sparidae) called a Bogue, Boops boops, was caught off Penlee Point, south Devon (near Plymouth). 
This warm water fish is rarely seen in British seas reaching its most northly point of distribution in the English Channel where this schooling fish appears as a vagrant.

2 August 2009
A Bogue, Boops boops, was caught in a Red Mullet net in 10 metres of water about half a mile off the shore at Seaton, south east Cornwall, by Chris Dominic on the FV Emma May.

This fish was about 17 cm (6 - 7"), but they can grow to 38 cm (14").  They are a shoaling fish and are a commercial species in southern Europe. They are classified in the Sparidae Sea Bream family and I assume they are good eating.  They are rare in British waters and most have been caught in the Channel Islands, but they have also been found in Torbay and several other places. They are regularly caught in Red Mullet nets in Mount's Bay Cornwall in the autumn, but this is the first I had heard of from Whitsand Bay.

9 February 2009
Guernsey commercial fisherman Steve Fallaize landed a Bogue, Boops boops, north of L'Ancresse off the north coast of Guernsey. It weighed 566 grams.

Photograph by Richard Lord
Bogue belong to the family Sparidae (Sea Breams). They are common Mediterranean fish, but uncommon in Guernsey waters where a few are caught every year.  All the Guernsey records I have for this fish come from the L'Ancresse area (north of Guernsey).  To give a sense of this fish's rarity Steve Fallaize has never seen this fish before and he has been fishing commercially in Guernsey waters since 1986. Sealord Photography

Two-banded Sea Bream, Diplodus vulgaris

19 July 2009
Recreational angler Andy Marquis called me on 27 June 2009 to tell me that he saw small silvery fish with a black band on their caudal peduncle off Salerie Corner, south side of Belle Greve Bay, east coast of Guernsey. 

I visited the area and saw silvery fish but was not able to identify them.  On Sunday 19 July 2009 he called me from a similar location to tell me the small silvery fish were back.  While sitting by him he caught the first positively identified white sea bream, Diplodus sargus, from Guernsey waters.  They have been confirmed in Jersey waters for a while. 

The fish Andy caught was 14.8 cm in total length and weighed 68 grams. Dave Foxen produced a video of what appears to be white sea bream swimming in Grand Havre bay on Guernsey's north-west coast on 21 October 2007.  The video can be seen here:

Other recreational anglers have caught small fish in Guernsey waters resembling white bream but they have not been positively identified.

Andy Marquis' white sea bream at 2 oz and 5 drams is now a Guernsey angling record for this species.  The Jersey record currently stands at 1 lb. 10 oz.   Owing to the small size of the Guernsey fish they may be breeding in Channel Islands waters.  This is the second species of bream (family sparidae) this year to have been identified and added to the list of fishes caught in Guernsey waters. 

29 January 2009
Commercial fisherman Steve Fallaize caught a Two-banded Sea Bream, Diplodus vulgaris, in a gill net set over night one mile off L'Ancresse off the north coast of Guernsey. It weighed 1011 grams. 
Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey) Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Sealord Photography

This fish is a new record for the British Isles.  It is principally a Mediterranean species and is also found on the Atlantic Seaboard of continental Europe and North Africa including Brittany where it is rare.

Red Sea Bream Pagellus bogaraveo
Pandora Pagellus erythrinus
Spanish Bream Pagellus acarne
Common Sea Bream Pagrus (=Sparus) pagrus
Black Sea Bream Spondyliosoma cantharus
Saddled Bream Oblada melanura
Bogue Boops boops
Saupe Sarpa salpa
Gilthead Sparus aurata
White Sea Bream Diplodus sargus
Dentex Dentex dentex


Bramidae: family of Pomfrets

Ray's Bream (Link to file)

Brama brama.

Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to 
Shorewatch Project  EMail

All messages will receive a reply. 
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