Is it an Gunnell or an Eel?
Today we took a class of 5th graders and their parents to the shore to explore the tidal pools. When they found an organism, Justin and I told them a few neat facts about them. While searching underneath rocks, an ecstatic boy kept yelling he had caught an eel. This organism was brown/ reddish with a pale belly. It also had dark small speckles along its back and onto its dorsal fin. Justin and I had identified the marine creature as a rock gunnel. They are most commonly mistaken for eels while searching in tidal zones. These animals are in fact fish not eels. The reason for this large misconception is because of its elongated body and long dorsal fin. Both eels and rock gunnels can be found in tidal pools and especially in brackish waters called estuaries. Eels are mostly nocturnal and will also feed on crustacean. They will dig into clams and mussels to eat them from the inside leaving it to appear shut. The biggest difference between the two is that the Rock Gunnel has two small pectoral fins. These fins help the fish maneuver from pool to pool and even dig under rocks. It primarily feeds on smaller fish, worms because it can maneuver quickly unlike the eel. If it can’t catch its prey the Rock Gunnel will feed on some crustacean. During the warm seasons, you can find them all over the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Happy searching.