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Benny the Blenny's Blog

Nosy fish – keeping watch. The eyes have it!


I'm keeping watch for predators and intruders. You can see from this video that I have unusual eyes and can look in different directions at the same time.

I've spotted something interesting. I'm off!
 

Explore life beneath the waves around Britain with Benny the Blenny

 

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Benny the Blenny's babies (juvenile fish) 2cm long are settling back on the reef

You've seen how my amazing my babies were swimming around in the plankton. The ones that managed to avoid being eaten and found enough plankton to eat have grown to around 2 cm long and have now settled back on the reef. The researchers are not sure how they find a good home reef. It may just be luck or something to do with them being able to recognise the smell of the area they hatched from. Some coral reef fish know which reef is home from the sound the waves make!

When my babies first settle they are quite colourless, but soon take on camouflage colours to help them match their surroundings. You can see that their head tentacles have started growing and their pectoral fins are just visible with some black pigment.

Thank you to the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth for their help in getting this photo. The NMA is an excellent place to see tompot blennies like Benny the Blenny and lots of other UK marine life.

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Benny the Blenny's babies (juvenile fish) 2cm long are settling back on the reef

You've seen how my amazing my babies were swimming around in the plankton. The ones that managed to avoid being eaten and found enough plankton to eat have grown to around 2 cm long and have now settled back on the reef. The researchers are not sure how they find a good home reef. It may just be luck or something to do with them being able to recognise the smell of the area they hatched from. Some coral reef fish know which reef is home from the sound the waves make!

When my babies first settle they are quite colourless, but soon take on camouflage colours to help them match their surroundings. You can see that their head tentacles have started growing and their pectoral fins are just visible with some black pigment.

Thank you to the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth for their help in getting this photo. The NMA is an excellent place to see tompot blennies like Benny the Blenny and lots of other UK marine life.

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Is it a bird or a fish? It's a baby tompot blenny, just like Benny the Blenny's babies, swimming in the plankton.

This video shows tompot blenny larvae like my babies swimming around in the plankton. These ones are around 15mm long and Teresa thinks they look like baby birds because they are flapping their pectoral fins to keep themselves swimming up in the water. They power themselves forwards using their tails too. When my babies first hatched as larvae they had a yolk sac which helped them stay up but that has now all been used up so they flap instead. If you look closely at the video you will see, just under the babies' bellies, that there are two blackish lines. These are their pelvic fins (equivalent to your legs) that have started to develop. My youngsters at this stage are not showing any signs of growing head tentacles, but these will develop by the time they settle on the seabed as little tompot blennies around 20 mm long in a few weeks time.

Thank you to the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth for their help in getting this video; it is an excellent place to see tompot blennies like Benny the Blenny and lots of other marine life in action.

vimeo.com


For wonderful line drawings and descriptions of tompot blenny larvae, see this paper:
Fives, Julie. M. 1986 Blenniidae of the Northern Atlantic (revised) Fich. Ident. Plancton (172:6pp)

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Flying about in the plankton, a baby tompot blenny!

Hey, this shows what my tompot blenny babies look like when they have left home, having hatched from those eggs that I’ve been guarding. Swimming among the plankton in the open sea, they are very sleek with gorgeous big eyes and are between 4 and 20 mm long.
When they first hatch they eat very small plant (phyto-) plankton and animal (zoo-) plankton, the youngsters grow quickly and are then able to eat larger plankton. Bigger fish larvae and jellyfish in the plankton are a real danger and my babies have to make smart evasive moves if they see they are about to be grabbed!
If you would like to find out more about plankton visit:
www.lifeadrift.info
This photo was made possible by the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth so many thanks to them. Paul, my underwater photographer, would never be able to spot and photograph one of my babies in the wild!

Benny the Blenny's Blog

Off to the plankton!

All my babes have now left my crevice home or ‘flown the nest’ as you like to say! I’m very proud of all my work because I was guarding eggs non-stop for nearly 4 months, keeping away all the ‘egg thieves’ (animals that might want to eat them) and caring for the eggs by wiping them over with my bulbous glands. Each batch of eggs takes about 2 months from being laid to hatching but, as we saw in my last blog, I had several batches! I’m keen to show you how wonderful they are closer up. This photo by Paul at the end of May showed that Belinda had just been laying the dark purple ones to the right of the picture. They were then the last to hatch in mid-July.

Now look at the eggs with obvious silver eyes at the front and left, they were the most developed and were almost ready to hatch. In the middle, the gold coloured eggs were part way through their development and so had the different colouring. Can you see the amazing little cups they are laid in?

When the eggs hatch, the very small tompot blenny larvae swim up into the plankton and have to take their chances along with the young of many other sea creatures. Having batches that hatch at different times is a very good survival strategy for us tompot blennies. If one batch of our larvae get hit by bad weather or run into particularly voracious predators eating lots of plankton, there’s a good chance that the other batches will have an easier time.

I’m now looking forward to seeing as many as possible of my youngsters landing back on the reef after their tough time in the plankton!