Sarpa salpa, known commonly as the dreamfish, salema, salema porgy, cow bream or goldline, is a species of sea bream, recognisable by the golden stripes that run down the length of its body, and which can cause hallucinations when eaten. It is found in the East Atlantic, where it ranges from the Bay of Biscay to South Africa, as well as in the Mediterranean. It has occasionally been found as far north as Great Britain. It is generally common and found from near the surface to a depth of 70 m (230 ft). Males are typically 15 to 30 cm (6–12 in) in length, while females are usually 31 to 45 cm (12–18 in). The maximum size is 51 cm (20 in).
Sarpa salpa became widely known for its psychoactivity following widely publicized articles in 2006, when two men ingested it at a Mediterranean restaurant and began to experience many auditory and visual hallucinogenic effects. These hallucinations, described as frightening, were reported to have occurred two hours after the fish was ingested and had a total duration of 36 hours. The fish, and especially its viscera, have been assessed as potentially unsafe by a study conducted on Mediterranean specimens. It is believed that the fish ingests a particular algae or phytoplankton which renders it hallucinogenic. The effects described are similar to those of indole tryptamine psychedelics.
- Bizsel, C.; Kara, M.H.; Pollard, D.; Yokes, B.; Goren, M. & Francour, P. (2011). "Sarpa salpa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Fish that triggers hallucinations found off British coast. The Daily Telegraph May 13, 2009. Accessed May 27, 2013.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2015). "Sarpa salpa" in FishBase. April 2015 version.
- Jadot, C.; Donnay, A.; Acolas, M.; Cornet, Y.; Begoutanras, M. (2006). "Activity patterns, home-range size, and habitat utilization of Sarpa salpa (Teleostei: Sparidae) in the Mediterranean Sea". ICES Journal of Marine Science. 63 (1): 128–139. doi:10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.06.010. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- Pommier, De Haro (October 2006). "Hallucinatory Fish Poisoning (Ichthyoallyeinotoxism): Two Case Reports From the Western Mediterranean and Literature Review". Clinical Toxicology 2006, Vol. 44, No. 2 : Pages 187. doi:10.1080/15563650500514590.
- "This Hallucinogenic Fish Was Used By The Romans As A Recreational Drug", accessed 17 October 2017, https://truththeory.com/2017/02/26/hallucinogenic-fish-used-romans-recreational-drug/
- Khaled Bellassoued; Jos Van Pelt & Abdelfattah Elfeki (22 Sep 2014). "Neurotoxicity in rats induced by the poisonous dreamfish (Sarpa salpa)". Pharmaceutical Biology 2015, Vol. 53, No. 11 : Pages 286-295. doi:10.3109/13880209.2014.916311.
Liver and especially the visceral part of S. salpa presented toxicity, which clearly indicates the danger of using this fish as food.
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- Photos of Salema porgy on Sealife Collection