The Illes Columbretes are home to a wider variety of common marine species, due to their remote location, extensive coastline and varying depths surrounding the islands.
DUSKY GROUPER (Epinephelus marginatus)
The Dusky Grouper (mero in Spanish) is not the most attractive of fish, and is not built for long-distance or fast swimming. It is generally sedentary, spending most of its time in front of its hole, where it takes refuge when faced with any perceived threat. It is carnivorous, feeding on crustaceans, octopus, squid and other fish. The best time to see the Dusky Grouper is during the summer, which is spawning season.
Description: The body is dark brown with yellow and white asymmetrical splotches, which, from a distance, are noticeably concentrated to form vertical stripes. The tip of its fin is bright white, making its lower end look luminescent. Normally it measures between 50 and 100cm and weighs between 3 and 10 kg, although it can grow to be much larger.
EUROPEAN BARRACUDA (Sphyraena sphyraena)
Known as fast swimmers and powerful predators, the European barracuda (espetón in Spanish) has a slick, streamlined body that is instantly recognisable, and despite its rather villain-like appearance, it poses little or no threat to humans. Younger specimens can be spotted swimming in a school, whilst adult barracudas may be seen hunting alone.
Description: Long, compressed body covered in small silver scales, which are darker at the top and occasionally have a yellow band running along the length of the body. It has a large mouth and a projecting lower jaw lined with prominent, sharp teeth. It normally measures 30-60cm, and weighs approximately 6kg.
EUROPEAN SEABASS (Dicentrarchus labrax)
Exceedingly adaptable in a wide range of temperatures (4-28ºC), the European seabass (lubina in Spanish) can be found in deep, coastal waters as well as closer to shore. It is a predator fish, preying on shrimp in its juvenile life and other fish once it reaches maturity.
Description: Dark blue, green or grey in colour with a light white or yellow belly. Juveniles tend to have lighter bodies than adults, with small dark spots along their backs that generally disappear within the first year. It measures up to a metre long, weighing 9-10 kg.
OCTOPUS (Octopus vulgaris)
Known for its intelligence, the octopus (pulpo in Spanish) preys on crabs, crayfish and other mollusks, and generally hunts at dusk. Its saliva contains a nerve poison, which it uses to paralyse its prey. It changes colour to blend in with its surroundings and is an agile jumper, allowing it to take its prey by surprise. It generally moves by crawling along the ocean floor, but at times swims through the water, using its high-pressured mantle cavity to propel itself.
Description: Colour varies in shades of grey, green or pink with some sporting blue and red iridescent spots. It can grow up to 25cm in mantle length (dorsal body) with arms of up to a metre long.
MEDITERRANEAN GORGONIAN (Paramuricea clavata)
The Mediterranean gorgonian (gorgonia roja in Spanish) is a species of bright, soft coral that grows in fan-shaped colonies. It is a filter feeder, using the polyps of its tentacles to catch food particles in the surrounding water. Individual colonies are either male or female; male colonies release sperm that fertilises cells on the surface of the female colonies.
Description: Generally bright yellow, fuchsia and bright red.
OTHER COMMON SPECIES
- Shade-fish (corvina)
- Bogue (boga)
- Basking shark (tiburón peregrino)
- European conger (congrio)
- Dolphinfish (lampuga)
- Common two-banded seabream (mojarra)
- Skipjack tuna (bonito listado)
- Mediterranean muray (morena)
- Salema (salema)
- Black scorpionfish (rascacio)
- Red scorpionfish (cabracho)