#SundayFishSketch The Penpoint Gunnel

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!

The Penpoint Gunnel

Apodichthys flavidus

This Penpoint Gunnel may be made by pen-point, but that’s not the origin of its namesake, rather the fist large spine of the anal fin is grooved and shaped like a fountain pen tip. Gunnels are a family of elongated, eel-like fish, the penpoint being one of fifteen. The penpoint gunnel ranges along the North American Pacific Coast from Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska to Southern California in intertidal areas.

Typically seen peering out of eelgrass or kelp beds where they feed on small crustaceans and mollusks (in colder months when there is less vegetation, they favor rocky crevices), it commonly takes on the coloration of the plants surrounding it. Occasionally, they may be found in tide pools and sometimes between rocks above water due to their ability to breathe air on the surface.

These 4-8 inch fish vary between shades of green, a wine-like maroon, or rusty brown, horizontally rowed along the mid-body are a series of dark and pale spots. Though perhaps the most easily identifiable characteristic is the dark vertical bar below each eye.


Froese, R. and Valdestamon, R. R. Apodichthys flavidus Girard, 1854. FishBase. Accessed 29/07/2018.

Lamb, A. and Edgell, P. Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest. Revised. (2010). Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing. Pp. 126-127.

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