I’m still hiding away safely in my crevice
home. Phew! Well kind of, it’s still like being in a washing machine down here
after Storm Freya and Storm Gareth whizzed through followed by continuing wind
and rain. There is a lot of swell and 2 metre waves crashing in on my beach.
Optimistically, I can feel it in the water
that 2019 is going to be a good year for us tompot blennies. Us ‘bourgeois males’ (that’s the way males like
me that guard a crevice territory are described) are getting busy. We’re preparing
for the spring by clearing any debris from our homes, getting ready to
encourage our local ladies in to lay their eggs. It’s an ongoing job at the
moment because, as soon as I clear lumps of seaweed out of my home, the swell
whooshes them all back in.
I’m really hoping that, this year, we won’t
have anything like last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ sweep over and drop the
water temperature dramatically.
The seawater temperature is still 9 degrees
C and about to turn back up I think. The days are lengthening so spring has
Things are looking up now the water temperature has increased to 11 degrees after the warm Bank Holiday. Bradley has moved into my old crevice home and has a good raft of eggs. The crevice he moved out of has no tompot occupant for the first time in 10 years of observing the reef. A cheeky Connemara clingfish has moved in there! Bertram who is further round the reef is doing well and so is Byron, they both have eggs to look after. Paul is able to recognise us tompot blenny males individually from our face markings and that’s why we have names; this article in the Guardian is a photo story all about us – please take a look at this link.
I’m “eggscited” and “eggsstatic” now I have a full raft of eggs to look after! That’s because this spring I’ve:
a) secured a territory – my crevice home
b) done my spring cleaning
c) done an “eggscellent” job of attracting the local females in to lay their eggs.
I did this by wafting inviting smells (pheromones) from the enlarged glands just under my belly. Back on 24th March, Belinda was the first female to respond to my smelly message, she came in and had a good look at my home, I gave her a show of my bravado by whizzing round at lightning speed. Once I’d calmed down, she then decided to lay some of her beautiful dark purple eggs with me, which I fertilised immediately. Since then I’ve had visits from Brenda, Barbara, Bertha and Becky too. Belinda has been back twice. I’m very particular where they lay their eggs so you will see in the video that I boss them around to make sure they lay their eggs just where I want them to! They tolerate a little gentle barging and fin nibbling as they know I have a good track record as a Dad; I’ve lived in this crevice for 3 years and have been very successful looking after eggs.
I noticed this year that the females visited us more established males in the better crevices first. Byron and I are the ‘top dogs’ on the reef and we both had a good layer of eggs in our crevices a week or two before the females started to lay eggs with Billy, a small younger male tompot blenny with an inferior crevice home.