Shore rockling (Gaidropsarus mediterraneus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Gaidropsarus mediterraneus is a long, slender fish with smooth, scaleless skin and very long dorsal and anal fins. It is dark brown in colour and has three barbels around its mouth, which is small. The corners of the mouth barely extend past the eyes.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from southwest and northeast England, north Wales and west Ireland but is probably distributed all around Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution



Found in pools on rocky shores and on sublittoral rocky ground to 27 m. It prefers rocky areas with plenty of algal cover and may also be found in seagrass beds.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Long eel-like body with second dorsal fin and anal fin extending along most of the body-length.
  • Three barbels; one above each nostril and one on the lower jaw.
  • Two dorsal fins; the first is reduced to a fringe of very short rays that may be seen moving with a continuous wave-like motion.
  • Mottled dark brown colour.

Additional information

May be confused with the five-bearded rockling Ciliata mustela, because they are similar in colour and habitat. But as the name suggests, the five-bearded rockling can be distinguished from Gaidropsarus mediterraneus by the five barbels around its mouth. The three-bearded rockling, Gaidropsarus vulgaris also has three barbels around its mouth but can be distinuguished from Gaidropsarus mediterraneus because of its very different colouration, which is reddish brown with obvious blotches.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  5. Wheeler, A., 1969. The fishes of the British Isles and north-west Europe. London: Macmillan.

  6. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1976. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  4. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  7. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-20

  8. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Fish (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.

  9. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 2018. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Shoresearch. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Neal, K.J. 2007. Gaidropsarus mediterraneus Shore rockling. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 20-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 07/06/2007