Salema porgy

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Salema porgy
Sarpa salpa .jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Sparidae
Genus: Sarpa
Bonaparte, 1831
Species: S. salpa
Binomial name
Sarpa salpa
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Sarpa salpa, known commonly as the 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.[2] It is found in the East Atlantic, as well as the Mediterranean, where ranging from the Bay of Biscay to South Africa.[3] It has occasionally been found as far north as Great Britain.[2] It is generally common and found from near the surface to a depth of 70 m (230 ft).[1] Males are typically 15 to 30 cm (6–12 in) in length, while females are usually 31 to 45 cm (12–18 in).[4] The maximum size is 51 cm (20 in).[3]

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.[5] These hallucinations, described as frightening, were reported to have occurred minutes after the fish was ingested and had a total duration of 36 hours.[citation needed]

Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, or hallucinogenic fish poisoning, is common in other species of fish but not in Sarpa salpa, which is not normally psychoactive. It is, in fact, often served as a dish at seafood restaurants in the Mediterranean area. 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.[5]


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b Fish that triggers hallucinations found off British coast. The Daily Telegraph May 13, 2009. Accessed May 27, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2015). "Sarpa salpa" in FishBase. April 2015 version.
  4. ^ "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. 2006. doi:10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.06.010. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b 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. Retrieved 2010-07-19.