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Banded Gunnel
 

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Pricklebacks & Gunnels

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Pricklebacks occur in a variety of habitats from intertidal and subtidal to sandy and muddy sea floors far from shore in water depths down to 500 m and more. Most gunnels are found in the intertidal area under rocks or in tidepools. The one gunnel species inhabiting the Arctic (P. fasciata) is found below the intertidal and often far from shore in water depths down to about 50 m. Pricklebacks and gunnels eat small crustaceans, worms, clams, and fish eggs.

In pricklebacks and gunnels, stiff spines support the dorsal fin for its entire length. Pricklebacks are similar to gunnels but have longer anal fins (body is shorter in front of the anal fin). They are elongate, compressed from side to side, and slightly eel-like in appearance. Taxonomists classify pricklebacks in 37 genera and 76 species, and gunnels in 3 genera and 15 species. Both families occur primarily in the North Pacific Ocean. However, four prickleback species have primary centers of distribution in the Arctic (Arctic shanny, fourline snakeblenny, slender eelblenny, stout eelblenny), and four others (blackline prickleback, bearded warbonnet, daubed shanny, snakeblenny) occur but have less of a presence there. One gunnel species has a wide distribution in the western Arctic (banded gunnel).

Page Author: Kitty & Tony Mecklenburg
Updated: Mar 3, 2009

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