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Fish #161 Common Goby Pomatoschistus microps ~ Alison Spittles
Watercolour 4 x 12 cm
The common goby (one of a family of goby species found all over the world) is a small fish, usually a maximum of 6cm, found in the sandy shallows and intertidal pools of coastal areas. It sometimes occurs in brackish water and upstream from river mouths due to its ability to tolerate low salinity levels. The common goby is found in the Baltic Sea, in the coastal waters of Norway, Great Britain and Ireland and the western Mediterranean.
An important food source itself for birds and other fish, the goby's diet consists of tiny crustaceans, worms and insect larvae. The common goby migrates downstream in the spring to breed. 100 - 1000 eggs are laid under a shell where the male goby fans the eggs with his tail to oxygenate them as they develop.
I was inspired to paint the unassuming and little-known goby after looking through an old copy of the Ladybird Book of the Seashore. It reminded not only of my childhood experience of loving that series of books on nature, but more vividly, of my frequent visits in the 1960s to the rocky shoreline, known as the 'scar' at Whitby where I was brought up. I had the privilege to see the then unspoilt beauty of pristine rockpools full of wonderful creatures. As well as hermit crabs, sea anemones, winkles and whelks, there were always tiny fish to be seen. But I confess, I never knowingly saw a common goby!
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