Diplodus sargos

White Sea Bream or  Common Sea Bream,  Diplodus sargus

31 August 2011
At the annual Jersey Open Shore Angling Festival, a British record breaking specimen of the White Sea Bream, or Sargo, Diplodus sargus, excited everyone including the angler Brian Swain. The fish took a Garfish bait and weighed in at  2 lb  6 oz 12 drams or 1.099 kg. This fish is a rare capture in British seas and the only known occurrences are recent appearances of shoals of these fish around the Channel Islands. Mature adults seem to be confined to shallow seas in the sheltered corner of  the Gulf Normano-Breton. Starting life as males, some White Bream become females in later life. The first youngsters found locally were collected in 1991 from the old hotwater outlet at La Collette Power Station on the western boundary of the South-east Coast of Jersey Ramsar Site. Since then they have grown on, apparently to establish a viable population: divers report frequent sightings and a small shoal can often be seen in the Queen Elizabeth II Marina, St Helier.

Report, Comments and Photograph by Andrew Syvret on his Sea Jersey Blog

BMLSS Sparidae

Diplodus Bream population in Guernsey waters by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

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: http://www.splashvision.com/Video/9341_White-Bream.html

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.

Report & Comments by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sealord Photography

Commercial fisherman Steve Fallaize caught a two-banded sea bream, Diplodus vulgaris, in a gill net set one mile off L'Ancresse off Guernsey's north coast. The net was set overnight and the fish was landed on the 29 January 2009.  According to Doug Herdson, formerly of the National Marine Aquarium, this fish is a new record for the British Isles.  Doug has been expecting this fish to turn up for sometime.  This 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 - see comments below that I sent to CIenviron last September.
Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey) Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Photographs by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Sealord Photography

Link to Sealord Photography

Steve Fallaize two-banded sea bream had a total weight of 1011 grams
Total length 37.9 cm
Fork length 33.3 cm
Standard length 29.1 cm

DXI, 15
AIII, 15
P1 16

Eight incisors anteriorly in top jaw.  Several rows of small molariform teeth behind the incisors.

Dave Foxen may have videod two-banded sea bream (and not white bream) in L'Ancresse bay in 21 October 2007.  See below.

Sea bream in the genus Diplodus have been rare visitors to Channel Island waters until relatively recently.  The identity of recently seen or captured Diplodus species in Guernsey waters has not been confirmed because none have been positively identified but white bream, Diplodus sargus, has been confirmed from Jersey waters.

On 4 October 2001 at 2100 Alan Martel caught a four inch long bream off Shell Beach, Herm Island.  The bream had a pure black band around the caudal peduncle.  The fish was silvery grey with some yellow.  The bream, which he thinks was a annular bream, Diplodus annularis, had small eyes and was more cigar-shaped than a black bream.  It was caught in sea grass beds off-shore from the Shell Beach toilets 1/2 hour after high water using a rag worm for bait.  The fish was released.

Guernsey sea fisheries officer David Wilkinson reported seeing two annular bream, Diplodus annularis, off Sark on 24 August 2002.  He wrote "I saw two annular Bream (Diplodus annularis) while snorkeling on the beach below the Coupee.  I was able to watch the two fish for some 4-5 minutes and am very happy that I have the identification correct. The fish were approximately 10cm long with the prominent dark patch at the base of the tail fin. The sightings reminded me of the same fish I saw in the quarry at Guernsey Sea Farms (near Bordeaux) some years ago."

White bream, Diplodus sargus, have been in Jersey waters for about 8 years.  Rob Shipley of The Jersey Evening Press wrote in July 2004 that "we first saw white bream in Jersey waters about four years ago. The first ones were in the warm-water outfall at La Collette. They were not much larger than a 10p piece. Subsequently we have seen them at Corbière, Ouaisné, near the White Rock at Rozel, at Grève de Lecq and, of course, at Ronez.  Andrew Syvret wrote on 13 May 2004 when recording the occurrence of Akera bullata in St. Helier harbour "this corner of the marina seems to be a man-made "haven" of some sorts - juvenile populations of white bream (Diplodus sargus) have been recorded here in the last few years."

On 21 July 2004, Rob Shipley, caught a white bream of over a pound while diving off Jersey.  He had a glimpse of a shoal a couple of days earlier in the same place off Ronez.  "They were quite deep – at least 50 ft – and in tide, so they were not an easy quarry.  The fish I captured was probably the largest I
have seen so far, though one at the White Rock was of a similar size. The White Rock fish was not deep – it was on the top of a rock outcrop in about ten feet of water."   The fish he caught had a stomach full of barnacles.  The fish was probably female; the ovaries were either spent or not fully developed.  "Although white bream are superficially similar to a black bream, the black blotch at the root of the tail is very conspicuous underwater, as are the vertical bands on the flanks."

Rob Shipley has been diving and spearfishing for the better part of 40 years. During that time he has seen plaice stocks diminish to vanishing point, big pollack desert inshore waters, a big increase in bass numbers, the arrival of trigger fish and now an influx of a bream which used to come no further north
than southern Brittany.  He reported that the white bream off Ronez behaved like their southern cousins. "There were five or six in the group and they were hovering around just above a boulder bank on a slope which goes down steadily to about 100 ft. Because they were well below the kelp line they looked just the same as bream in the Mediterranean, Portugal or the Canaries.  White bream often inhabit holes and caves; black bream are always in open water.  Now that I have confirmed the identity of white bream I shall leave the rest alone – until, that is, they become a firmly established and common part of the local fish stock. "

On September 2, 2004 Nick Guilmoto reported seeing white bream, Diplodus sargus, in Rocquaine Bay.  Two weeks earlier while snorkelling he saw a dozen bream in Rocquaine Bay for the first time.  As he approached they darted away into the kelp.  The weather was overcast and conditions were poor so he wasn't able to have a close look at the fish.  He estimated they were 3/4 to 1 lb. each.  On the 2 September he snorkelled in the same place and saw 7 or 8 of the same fish.  "There were two grey mullet near the bream which seemed to make them calm.  They didn't scatter.  The bream were comfortable around the mullet."  He was able to have a close look at the bream and he could see a prominent black mark on the caudal peduncle.  They had an extremely forked tail and their caudal fin was dark distally.  He was convinced that they were white bream, Diplodus sargus.   "Between the Cup and Saucer and the Imperial Hotel there are three reefs that run out to sea perpendicular to the shore.  These reefs are called Portelet Houmet, middle Houmet, and Rocquaine Houmet.  Immediately behind Portelet Houmet there is another reef.  The fish were to the right-hand side of this reef as viewed from the shore."

Dr. Daniel Latrouite formerly of IFREMER (French fishery research agency) in his Christmas card of 2005 wrote "white bream, Diplodus sargus, is now frequent in shallow waters around Brest and some have been captured near Cherbourg.  Common two-banded seabream, Diplodus vulgaris, is less frequent but some are caught from time to time."

Dave Foxen took video of what appears to be a school of juvenile white bream, Diplodus sargus, in Grand Havre Bay on  21 October 2007.  See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBftcIRvL_8

In response to seeing the video from Dave Foxen, Guernsey sea fisheries officer David Wilkinson wrote on 22 October 2007 "these are exactly the same-looking fish as I observed in Sark several years ago while snorkelling (and reported to yourself). Also while diving in Guernave Foxen, Guernsey sea fisheries officer David Wilkinson wrote on 22 October 2007 "these are exactly the same-looking fish as I observed in Sark several years ago while snorkelling (and reported to yourself). Also while diving in Guernsey Sea Farms quarry I observed a shoal of similar looking fish to these ( autumn 1999). The ones I saw were small (6 inches long ). Looking at Collins guide they certainly appear to fit the white seabream."

Len Le Page in his fishing column published in The Guernsey Press on 20 February 2008 wrote "Jersey angler R. Allen pushed the shore-caught white bream mark up from 1 lb. 7 oz. 4 drams to 1 lb. 10 oz 11 drams.  Catches of white bream in Jersey are following the same pattern as the Couch’s sea bream in our waters.  Both appeared for the first time in recent years and regular captures are steadily pushing up the records. It’s strange that Jersey don’t seem to get the Couch’s sea bream and although white bream have been reported in Guernsey waters, they have yet to be caught on rod and line."

Please be on the look-out for Diplodus species of bream, and particularly for the white bream, Diplodus sargus, with a black band on its caudal peduncle (tail.)  If you have other records of Diplodus species in Channel Island waters I would appreciate them.  To confirm identity of white bream one needs to inspect the teeth as the type and number of rows of teeth are the best way to separate the various sea bream species.  Skin colour cannot be relied on for positive identification.

Google image search for white sea bream, Diplodus sargus:


Best wishes,

Richard Lord

"If you can hit that mark between audacious and achievable - that's a big idea."
Dr. Sanjay Gupta

John has given me permission to forward his observations at Chouet, Guernsey to the CI environ email list.

Please see the video link provided by him for this revelation.

Begin forwarded message:

From: "john" <john@i-jam.net>
Date: 7 February 2009 09:47:01 GMT
To: <fishinfo@guernsey.net>
Subject: fish identification?

Hi Richard,
I wonder if you could help me with identifying a fish that i saw a couple of nights ago; i was in the water at Chouet, freediving with my camera/speargun and saw what i think is a bream - but not sure which variety..
There is a link to the youtube video and also a couple of still on the Deeperblue/guernsey forum here: http://forums.deeperblue.com/guernsey/81477-guernsey-2009-a-9.html#post752176
it is post 134.
and i have attached the stills grabbed from  the video; the youtube video is directly at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vpooNZ4gho&eurl=http://forums.deeperblue.com/guernsey/81477-guernsey-2009-a-9.html
Best regards,
John Bate (guernsey spearo)