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Table of Contents

The blenny tribes are characterized among Gulf of Maine fishes by the position of their ventral fins, which are under or in front of the pectorals, combined with a single dorsal fin that is spiny throughout its length and extends the whole length of the trunk, and with a slender form, eel-like in some of them. The only other Gulf of Maine fishes that resemble them are the wolffishes (p. 502) and the wrymouth (p. 500), but both of these lack ventral fins, which are present in all our blennies, though they may be very small. Furthermore, the tremendous canine tusks and molar teeth of the wolffish (p. 503) have no counterpart among the blennies, and the peculiar face of the wrymouth is equally distinctive for it (p. 501). The eelpout (Macrozoarces) also is somewhat blennylike in appearance, but the greater part of its dorsal fin is soft rayed, not spiny; and its anal fin is continuous with its caudal fin.

The blennies are a numerous tribe of small carnivorous shore fishes, widely distributed both in northern and in tropical seas. Five species are known in the Gulf of Maine.

1. Body very slender, about 18-20 times as long as it is high Snake blenny, p. 494
Body only moderately slender, not more than 8 to 10 times as long as it is high 2  
2. There is a row of conspicuous roundish black or dusky spots along the dorsal fin 3  
There is only one large and conspicuous dark spot on the dorsal fin, or none 4  
3. The pectoral fins are about as long as the body is high; the ventral fins are well developed, without noticeable spines, and about as long as one-half the height of the body Arctic shanny, p. 497
The pectoral fins are only about one-half as long as the body is high; the ventral fins are minute (likely to be overlooked) Rock eel, p. 492
4. Pectoral fins evenly rounded, their middle rays the longest; dorsal fin marked on its forward part with one large and conspicuous dark blotch; only 43 or 44 dorsal fin spines Radiated shanny, p. 498
Pectoral fins with the lower rays longer than the upper rays and free at their tips; 58 to 61 dorsal fin spines Shanny, p. 497