Explore life beneath the waves around Britain with Benny the Blenny
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
I’ve put on my imaginary flashing baubles for you. I think they would be fun but a bit of a nuisance, swishing backwards and forwards in the swell! I’d also have to turn the baubles off at night so I didn’t attract any hungry predators!
All the wind and wave action means it’s been like a non-stop washing machine down here for weeks now, but that’s often how it is at this time of year. It seems to have kept my nosey visiting underwater photographer away too.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas from Benny the Blenny and all in my underwater world.
If you would like to help us this Christmas season please take a look at www.bennytheblenny.com
Storm Desmond and the by-the-wind sailors
We’ve just had another storm, they’ve started giving them names now, this one was ‘Desmond’. The power of the waves has torn off a lot more kelp and thongweed (large seaweeds) from the rocks near my home. Some has ended up on the beach in large piles.
Teresa has been wandering along the beach when the seaweed first washes up to see if she can find animals like sea mat, blue-rayed limpets and even raspberry sea squirts among the piles. A special surprise was that Storm Desmond has just brought in a lot of by-the-wind sailors (see photograph) up onto the beach too! They look like small jellyfish but each one is a colony of tiny animals called hydroids. The colonies’ sails catch the wind, propel them across the sea and give them their great name!
Doubly nosy fish – I’ve got two sets of nostrils!
It’s not just my head tentacles that go with the swell! The small tentacles (called cirri) around my nostrils swish around too when its rough. Have a close look at this photo; just over my lower nostrils you can see that I’ve got a little crown of these fine tentacles. They detect smells (chemicals) in the water as it flows into the nostrils. Before the water flows out again through my upper nostrils, it passes over a lot more sensitive cells that add to my knowledge of what’s around. Can you see my upper nostrils? They don’t have any tentacles, are just level with my eyes and look a bit like miniature volcanoes! My sense of smell helps me find food or a mate. It’s really important and takes over from my eyesight when the water is too murky for me to see clearly.
You can also see several other little round holes on my head. They are either pores for drawing in water to help me sense what direction the good/bad smells are coming from, or are there to detect water movement.
The water temperature is dropping slowly and its now 13 degrees. It calmed down for a couple of days last week and I was able to go out for a good hunt. I have to make the most of it when I can. It’s now turned incredibly rough again, well it is winter!
Jet stream = bad hair day!
Unlike my territory, the weather is something I have no control over. The autumn storms have arrived and are likely to be whistling through for the next few weeks thanks to the position of the jet stream. Learn all about the jet stream here: www.metoffice.gov.uk
The wind off the coast of Devon is blowing wildly, mainly from the south-west, and so large waves are swirling around my rock. Have you ever looked into the glass front of the washing machine when it’s on the go? That’s exactly what it is like outside my home at the moment! There are lots of bubbles and a powerful swell, and it will be like this for a while now.
I use all my fins to keep me secure in the back of my crevice, tucked away from the swooshing waves, and hope that something interesting to eat gets carried within reach. When it’s like this I don’t venture far, if at all, for fear of being washed way. I have another adaptation on my side too; blennies like me don’t have a swim bladder which makes it easier for us to stay close to the seabed. If I do go out, I have to be extra careful I don’t get washed into the way of the snakelocks anemone’s tentacles or bashed by stones moving around in the waves.
As you can see from the photograph, my head tentacles go with the swell, a bit like your hair blowing in the wind. A bad hair day is likely to be a bad hair week!