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Fish #165 Shanny Lipophrys pholis ~ Marcelle Seabourne
Acrylic on canvas 40 x 30 cm
A search in the rock pools or damp crevices at low tide on any suitable patch of UK coastline may well be rewarded with a sighting of one these delightful little creatures, only about five and a half centimetres in size. The shanny is perfectly at home in the extremes of its constantly changing habitat. The outside of its body and the roof of its mouth have an excellent blood supply, exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide so the fish can survive quite comfortably breathing air until high tide returns. Covered with pigmented spots, the shanny can adapt its colouring to blend in with its surroundings or to signal to other fish.
The male shanny carefully selects a suitable spot for a nest to tend eggs from several different females. Research has shown that he will return to the same nest site year after year, demonstrating homing abilities, including well-developed navigation skills and an awareness of its position remarkable in such a small creature.
As a shallow water species, occurring only up to a depth of eight metres, the shanny may be adversely affected by coastal development and pollution, so is a useful indicator for the health of shoreline areas. It is highly sensitive to organic contaminants and suffers particularly in very restricted areas because of its inability to move away from its home range.
The shanny may live for up to ten years and can be kept in a marine aquarium. Being so intelligent, it can even learn to climb out onto a rock and take food from your hand.
Many images of fish show a side view aimed at assisting identification, but for this painting I wanted the viewer to engage directly with the shanny. 'Standing' on its pectoral fins, with beady eyes looking out at me, the fish seems to have a personality and reminds me of the link between marine life and ourselves.
Marcelle Seabourne is based in Lincolnshire, although she loves to travel. Many of her paintings and drawings relate to place, so her work is sometimes directly connected to her home county or to somewhere she has visited. However, Marcelle is also interested in nature, in people, in the effect of light on objects and she enjoys a challenge. You can find many examples of Marcelle's work on her website and she also regularly posts updates on Facebook or on Instagram . You can also watch a video of this painting developing on Youtube
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Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is a not-for profit organisation, registered at Companies House. Company Number 10934941