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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Ammodytes tobianus Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: plicae 120-138. Dorsal rays 49-58; anal rays 24-32. Scales present in the midline anterior to dorsal fin and over the musculature at base of caudal fin; belly scales in tight chevrons. Vertebrae 60-68. Colour: back typically sandy brown. Size: rarely over 20 cm SL.

Habitat: inshore waters, especially sandy bays and beaches, including the inter-tidal zone and estuaries; rarely offshore. Alternates between Iying buried in the sandy substrate and swimming in schools in the water mass. Food: zooplankton and some large diatoms. Reproduction: exists as two distinct but often sympatric groups spawning in spring (February-April) and autumn (September to November).

Distribution: eastern North Atlantic from eastern Murman (69° N) to Spain (36° N), including south and west coasts of Iceland, and most of the Baltic. In the Mediterranean, recorded from the Balearic Is.

Eggs, larvae and young stages: McIntosh & Masterman, 1897: 306, pl. III (fig. 15), XII (fig. 6 9) | Ehrenbaum, 1904: pl. VII; 1909: 300, fig. 107a (as A. Ianceolatus) | Corbin & Vati, 1949: 298, pl. II (fig. 1) | Einarsson, 1951:1-75; 1955: 1-7, pl. | Thomopoulos, 1954b: 112-120
| Macer, 1967: 3, 5, fig. 7a-d.
Otoliths (sagitta): Frost, 1928a: 454, pl. XVII (fig. 11) | Kändler, 1941: 96, fig. 17-18.


The spawning groups differ in mean vertebral number (autumn higher than spring), otolith structure, and probably habitat, but have not been given subspecific status.

Lesser sand-eels (Ammodytes tobianus)