Sphyraena viridensis

Sphyraena viridensis is a species very similar to Sphyraena sphyraena. In fact, much is unknown about this species, assuming that the habits and behaviors are similar between both species.

Source: FAO

Sphyraena viridensis is a species characterized by its elongated, fusiform, very hydrodynamic body with an almost cylindrical cross section. The maximum size of Sphyraena viridensis specimens is 65 cm long, being slightly smaller in size than Sphyraena sphyraena.

Sphyraena viridensis has a well-developed lateral line. Its head is elongated, which makes its jaws long, with the lower jaw being more prominent than the upper. The jaws do not reach beyond the front edge of the eye, neither in juveniles nor in adult specimens. The jaws are provided with very developed, robust and extremely sharp teeth. The base coloration of this species is between a greenish gray and lead gray, with the belly completely silver. Sometimes, it can present between 20 and 22 dark colored transversal bands, which are diffused by the flanks. We cannot use these transversal bands to identify this species, since there are individuals that present them and others that do not.

Sphyraena viridensis has two dorsal fins, the first one has 5 spines, while the second one, in a more posterior position, has a spiny ray and 9 soft rays. The pectoral fins are small compared to the body size. The posterior end of the pectoral fins does not go beyond the origin of the pelvic fins. The pelvic fins are born at the beginning of the first dorsal fin. Its anal fin has a spinous radius and 9 soft rays, while the caudal fin is forked.

A distinctive feature that differentiates it from the other species of barracuda present in the Mediterranean (Sphyraena sphyraena) is the presence of scales on the operculum. The operculum of Sphyraena viridensis lacks scales on the rear edge, while in Sphyraena sphyraena is completely covered by scales. Although this distinctive feature will not be very useful if we want to identify the species through photographs. To be able to distinguish between these two very similar species, we will have to rely on 3 differential characteristics. The first one is located in the operculum. The rear edge of the Sphyraena viridensis operculum has two spines, while in Sphyraena sphyraena there is only one spine. The second distinctive feature is the second and third spines of the first dorsal fin. These are in Sphyraena viridensis shorter than the highest radius of the second dorsal fin, while in Sphyraena sphyraena they are always of a similar size. Finally, the third distinctive feature is the interior coloration of the mouth, which in Sphyraena viridensis is yellowish, while in Sphyraena sphyraena is white.

Sphyraena viridensis is a pelagic species, predator of perciformes and cephalopods, which we can find sometimes forming schools of more than 100 individuals, although it is also possible to find it alone. During the months of May to August the reproduction of Sphyraena viridensis occurs, period during which the females come to release hundreds of thousands of eggs that will be fertilized externally by the sperm released from the males.