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The shanny (Lipophrys pholis) is a species of blenny, with a streamlined body patterned with irregular blotches and spots. Their colouration varies from olive green to dark brown/red and may match the colour of the fish’s habitat. When males are ready to breed, they become very dark in colour, and their lips turn white.
The shanny’s blunt head bears distinctive high-set reddish eyes and unlike other blennies, has no tentacles. This fish grows to approximately 15 centimetres long, and when fully grown, develops a ridge between the eyes. The shanny has one dorsal fin which is long and split in two by an indentation.
Found across the rocky shore, the shanny is somewhat of a habitat generalist. Although they prefer to remain local to their home rock pool, this resilient fish can survive out of water as long as its body remains wet and is even able to breathe air. For this reason, you might discover the well-camouflaged shanny under seaweed, or in crevices exposed as the tide falls. In the summer months you may be fortunate enough to find the shanny’s golden eggs underneath large stones. The male shanny will be nearby, guarding the eggs closely until they hatch.
The shanny is one of the most recorded species for the Rock Pool Project, with sightings across the South West. Let us know if you find one on your next survey!