Explore life beneath the waves around Britain with Benny the Blenny
I’m going to be a Dad again! Eggs in time for Easter
It’s a good thing I got my crevice home clean and ready for my female visitors. Just before Easter, a female that we now call Betty came to visit me and she laid a beautiful raft of eggs for me to look after. You can see me in the background of these photographs. The female tompot blennies tend to be paler than the darker more reddish coloured breeding males. In the bottom photograph, Betty is in the middle of laying her eggs and her ovipositor (egg laying organ) is showing.
Teresa and Paul came diving to visit us and were pleased to see that we had started to breed. Storm Katie came through a couple of days later so they are not sure whether Betty’s eggs have survived the storm. In any case, I’ll be trying to attract several other female tompots to visit me over the next two months to lay their eggs. Hopefully the weather will improve, so it will be easier for me to be ready for them!
When I have eggs to look after, I wipe them over with my special glands (that look like miniature cauliflowers) to keep them clean, healthy and free of bugs.
As soon as the sea is calm enough, Teresa and Paul will come and see me again and will be able to let you know how we are all doing.
Great news! I’m the star of a scientific paper!
Among other things, it shows how you can use face markings to tell us individual tompot blennies apart.
As you can see from the photo I have an angular sloping ‘M’ shape mark just under my eye and my photographer and marine biologist Paul Naylor uses this face marking as well as others on the front and other side of my face to be sure it is me he is looking at! He has recently realised we are all different and has built up a collection of ‘mug shots’ (photographs) for all the tompot blennies that he sees regularly on my reef. Being able to name each of us by our face markings has made it easier for him to understand our behaviour.
Paul now knows we have fights over territory and females, we can stay in our crevice homes for at least 4 years and I have guarded the eggs of several different females for at least 2 years. This information has just been published by him and David Jacoby (Zoological Society London) in the Journal of Fish Biology. So I’m now an important research fish too!
This link will take you to a slideshow that tells you more about it: wtru.st
I’ve noticed that the days are getting longer again so it feels as if spring is nearly here. The divers, Teresa and Paul, have just managed to swim along to see me again in between storms. They visited in January but didn’t see much of me as I was tucked away at the back of my crevice. This time they noticed that I’d been busy cleaning it out ready for inviting in the local female tompot blennies. I’ve carefully flicked out any sand and debris left by the storms, so the floor and ceiling are clear and ready for them to stick down their eggs. I’m the best at this job!
It’s a pretty important time of year for me as there’s a lot more activity around my reef. I’ve kept control of my crevice all winter but, as spring kicks in, many of the other younger males will try their luck fighting me for my territory! I’m bigger, older and wiser than them so am confident of keeping it. Paul has got close-up photographs of my face markings so that he’s sure it’s definitely still me that’s here!
By the time they next dive to see me, they might be able to see the eggs I will be proudly protecting!
It’s World Book Day today, have you seen my book?
In Benny the Blenny’s Shallow Sea Adventure you will be able to read all about me and my neighbours: crabs, cuttlefish, sea anemones, starfish, seals and fish that live on my reef. Do I eat them or do they try to eat me? Take a look at it here: www.amazon.co.uk
Plastic can make me sick!
The piles of seaweed have been around on the beach for weeks now. Many of the fronds have been broken down into very small pieces. Teresa was photographing them on the beach and found a lot of small pieces of plastic mixed in with the natural seaweed. The pieces of seaweed will quickly be recycled in the food chain but the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that never go away!
I and many other marine animals can easily think a small piece of plastic is food. I quickly spit the plastic out if I realise in time but, should I swallow it by mistake, any nasty chemicals that have stuck to it might make me ill or die.
Please think seriously about how YOU can help me and the other creatures by using less plastics, especially the ones that are thrown away after one use. For example, I mean bottles of water and fizzy drinks. The drink is drunk and the plastic bottle is thrown away. Please dispose of it in the recycling bin but, even better, get a re-usable bottle and refill it from the tap. If you all did this, you could make a big difference to your world and mine.
Up to 20 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Did you know that there is now a huge island in the ocean completely made of our rubbish! Take a look: www.youtube.com
Please do YOUR bit to stop this pollution NOW.
Read more about plastic pollution on the My Wild Challenge page: wildlifewatch.org.uk
Happy New Year! Recycling and food chains.
Phew! While the water temperature has now dropped to 10 degrees, the wind has eased for the first time in about 2 months and the sea is now a lot calmer.
Loads of seaweed has been washed up on the beach by the winter storms. There are tons more, that can’t be seen from the beach, swirling around close to the shore and around the base of my reef. With the sea now calmer, I will search among it and hunt the small tasty shrimp-like animals (called isopods and amphipods) that are eating the rotting seaweed.
As it's still too murky to dive, Teresa watches natural recycling in action on the beach. Kelp flies lay their eggs in the seaweed and, when the pale larvae hatch, they start munching away at the fronds starting with the thinnest pieces. Sand hoppers (the little jumpy animals you find on the sand) also eat the rotting seaweed. If you turn over a pile, you will see all the sand hoppers leaping about. Crows, blackbirds and other birds feed on the larvae and sand hoppers. That’s another food chain in action!
Have you heard the recent good news?
17th January 2016.
23 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) have been designated bringing the number to date to 50 (of 127 recommended to the Government in 2011). This is a positive step towards the comprehensive network of sites needed to help your and my sea recover and thrive. There’s still more work to do! www.wildlifetrusts.org