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Shanny Leptoclinus maculatus (Fries) 1837


[Jordan and Evermann, 1896-1900, p. 2433.]

Shanny (Leptoclinus maculatus)

Figure 261.—Shanny (Leptoclinus maculatus). After Collett.


The shanny resembles the snake blenny somewhat in general appearance and in the location and shape of its dorsal and anal fins, but is not so slender (only 10 to 12 times as long as it is deep instead of about 20 times). The most important points of difference (aside from its more robust form) are that the tail of the shanny is about straight in outline instead of narrowly oval or pointed as it is in the snake blenny; that the lower rays of its pectoral are the longest and are separate at their tips; and that the shanny has only 58 to 61 dorsal fin spines, and 35 to 38 anal fin rays.


Dirty-yellowish, paler below, the back and sides marked with indistinct yellowish-brown blotches of various sizes. The dorsal fin is described as barred obliquely with about 10 rows of brownish dots and the pectorals as cross-barred with about 5 rows. These fins show no distinct markings on the several preserved specimens we have examined; the caudal fin, however, shows one or two dark crossbars, even after preservation.


Maximum length about 7 inches.

Habits and food—

In Scandinavian waters the shanny spends most of the year in deep water, probably coming up to the shallows to spawn. In the aquarium it keeps close to the bottom, with the body extended and the pectoral fins expanded, and apparently supports itself on the free lower rays of those fins.[70] Annelid worms and pelagic amphipods have been found in shanny stomachs; this is all that is known of their mode of life. The shanny is supposed to spawn in winter, but neither its eggs nor its larvae have ever been seen.

General range—

An Arctic fish, known south to Norway and Sweden in the eastern side of the Atlantic, and to Cape Cod in the western side.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

Definite records of this Arctic fish for the Gulf of Maine are of several specimens that were collected in 40 to 90 fathoms in Massachusetts Bay by the U. S. Fish Commission in 1887;[71] one that we took in a tow net near Boone Island on March 4, 1920; one from the northeast part of Georges Bank, August 1926, and four (4 to 4½ inches long) that were trawled off Chatham, Cape Cod, in 28 fathoms, May 1, 1930, by the Albatross II. This paucity of captures suggests that it enters the Gulf only as a chance straggler from the north, perhaps maintaining itself in small numbers in the bottoms of the deep isolated troughs where the water is coldest.

The nearest records of it to the eastward and northward are of fish taken off the Atlantic Coast of Cape Breton,[72] from the estuary of the St. Lawrence River near Trois Pistoles;[73] from St. Mary's Bay on the south coast of Newfoundland, from the eastern part of the Grand Banks, and off the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland.

[70] Smitt, Scandinavian Fishes, vol. 1, 1892, p. 230.

[71] Presumably the Gulf of Maine specimens reported by Kendall (Proc. Portland Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 3, 1914, p. 62), now in the United States National Museum, are this lot.

[72] By the Newfoundland Fisheries Research Commission; also it is listed from Nova Scotia without locality, see Vladykov and McKenzie (Proc. Nova Scotian Inst. Sci., vol. 19, 1935, p. 104).

[73] Vladykov and Tremblay, Natural. Canad. vol. 62 (Ser. 3, vol. 6), 1935, p. 81.