Sand Smelt

Atherina presbyter

Also called ‘Silversides’ or ‘Little Sand Smelt’, it is a slender, silvery-looking fish with a small head and large eyes. It is yellowish, transluscent green above, pale below with silver scales along its flanks which is often outlined in black. It has 2 dorsal fins sited above pelvic and anal respectively. Length 15 to 20cm. Weight up to 100g.

It eats zooplankton, crustaceans and fry. It spawns from June into July, with some spawning taking place in large intertidal pools, whilst most occurs in coastal lagoons. They can live up to 4 years.

It is found in unpolluted harbours, estuaries and saline lagoons. Also inland and coastal marine waters. It can penetrate the lower reaches of rivers. It swims in shoals, often in inshore waters in summer. Local and seasonal, mainly in the south and the south-west.

Photographs taken August 2015, Torquay Harbour, Torquay, Devon.