Snorkelling in the beautiful crystal clear waters of Sardinia, it is easy to meet the Sand Steenbras (Mormora). This sparidae (Lithognathus mormyrus) lives mostly in mixed areas of sand and rock, and often you can meet the Sand Steenbras in a very shallow depth along the white beaches together with the swimmers who move the sand. In fact, the Mormora feeds on marine worms, molluscs and crustaceans, which it finds in the sand is therefore a rather easy encounter and if approached it is easily photographed.
Distribution and habitat
The species is widely distributed in shallow seas at depths down to about 150 m (492 ft). Its range includes the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the eastern Atlantic Ocean from France southwards to South Africa, the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Cape Verde Islands, the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean from Mozambique southwards to South Africa. It is found in estuaries and bays over sandy and muddy seabeds and sea grass meadows.
The sand steenbras is a moderately deep-bodied fish that can grow to a length of about 55 cm (22 in), with a weight of around 1 kg (2.2 lbs), but a more common size is 30 cm (12 in). Its head is about as long as it is high and its upper profile is slightly convex. The dorsal fin has eleven spines and twelve to thirteen soft rays. The pectoral fin is shorter than the head and has fifteen to seventeen soft rays. The anal fin has three spines and ten to eleven soft rays. The head and body are silver, the body being marked with about fourteen vertical dark bands.