Salema – Sarpa salpa

The Salema, also known as Karanteen or Goldline, is a species in the family of Sparidae and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish.

Salema - Sarpa salpa Osteichthyes bony fish diving canary islands species atlantic ocean
Salema – Sarpa salpa


The body of Sarpa salpa is high-backed and laterally, slightly compressed. It has a silver colour, being golden from the forehead to the centre of the back. In addition, it has many golden stripes from the head to the tail fin.

It reaches a maximum size of 50cm.

Habitat and Distribution

The Salema is usually found over rocky reefs, in dense swarms. It lives down to a depth of 70m.

When diving in the Canaries you can see it very often in small or large swarms. Actually, you see it at every dive.

Sarpa salpa is also spread from the coast in the south-west of France, across the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde to Sierra Leone. It is also found in the south-eastern Atlantic from Congo, via South Africa, to Mozambique in the Indian Ocean.


Sarpa salpa lives in dense swarms. It may happen that other species accompany the swarm.

It feeds almost exclusively herbal, while young fish consume Conchifera and crustaceans.

From about 20cm, Salema become sexually mature. At first they are male, and later they are transformed into females, when the sex relations in the swarm fail to the disadvantage of the males. Two breeding times are known in Cape Verde. The first from March to May and the second from September to November.

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