We’re looking at you Dad!

Tompot blenny, & mature eggs close-up 5 C2

Over the summer the eggs that I have been caring for have developed well; you can see them on the ceiling above my head. They look like amethyst gems (see Barbara’s eggs in the photograph) when first laid, then progress to a gold colour with a paler centre. Just before they hatch, their eyes become very obvious and it looks as though they are watching what I’m up to. I still clean all of them regularly by wiping them with my special gland (see blog 26/06/15) and protect them from predators.

It won’t be long now before the ones with well-developed eyes hatch. I will be sad to see them leave but my job is done. They need to go into the plankton and find the right size food so they can grow into young fish.

For more photos of British marine life why not check out www.marinephoto.co.uk!

Strange visitors

Sam & Teresa, Pelistry IoS 1

At low tide today two snorkellers came to see me. Luckily I recognised Teresa’s mask and popped out to see her and Sam. You could see fish like me if you go snorkelling when the sea is very calm and clear, but take care and always go with an adult.

Here are a couple of links on snorkelling:
www.bsac.com
www.snorkeling.co.uk

Eek, a diving bird!

20150724 012 Diving bird for blog

Close escape today! I was on the ‘balcony’ (all right then, the rock ledge) outside my home, nosing around when whoosh down came a diving bird, a shag. It almost caught me in its sharp beak! I flicked speedily into the back of my crevice and stayed hidden there as the shag continued to swim around my rock, prodding its beak into many of the cracks and crevices looking for food. I saw an unfortunate corkwing wrasse (a type of fish) being crunched. I am now a bit nervous about coming out again. It’s a good thing I spotted this predator so quickly. Having my eyes set so high on my head is a brilliant adaptation that helps me see well in all directions.

My local beach

 

The rocky reef that I live on is close to here. It’s just beyond the low tide mark but is always covered in water. Lots of tompot blennies live further offshore than this and in deeper water, sometimes down to 30 metres.

A Dad’s duties

Tompot blenny, single with eggs 1

Here, I’m using my pectoral (shoulder) fins to fan water over Belinda’s developing eggs and keep them healthy. I also have a special gland near my tail that releases important stuff to keep bugs from growing on the eggs. Female tompot blennies like Belinda take care to lay their eggs in a single layer that makes it easy for me to give them all a good wipe over.

Since Belinda’s visit, two other female tompot blennies (let’s call them Barbara and Brenda) have been attracted by my smelly messages (pheromones) and have been flirting just outside my home at different times. I’ve encouraged them in and they have laid their eggs next to Belinda’s. I fertilised them straight away, as I need to make sure I’m their Dad. I have to be on my guard because lots of animals would love to eat my eggs. I can’t leave them unguarded for more than a few moments so I have to grab my own food very quickly!

Guarding my eggs from an edible crab

Tompot blenny RL 1227 93

Now I’ve got eggs to care for, I need to keep intruders away. This edible crab is too close and I’m concerned he wants to use those big claws to pick and eat my youngsters developing in their eggs. As you can see, I’m biting and pushing his leg to scare him off. He’s slow on the uptake so it can take a while but eventually he will get the message and shuffle off. Meanwhile, he is protecting his antennae, eyes and mouth from my attacks.

The velvet swimming crabs can be more difficult to chase away, as they like a fight. I use a different tactic with them because they are fast and have sharp claws. I harass them by darting in quickly so they don’t have time to nip me. I’m clever as well as very bossy!

Hello, I’m Benny the Blenny. I’m a real fish with lots to tell you!

Hello, I’m Benny the Blenny.

I’m very excited to be starting my blog on WordPress, telling you all about the wonderful world in the sea around Britain. Who am I? I’m a small fish, a tompot blenny, that lives very close to rocky and stony beaches. You could spot me if you go snorkelling or you might sometimes find me in rockpools if the tide is very low.

In my blog, I’ll be telling you all about me and what my superb red head tentacles are for, what happens in my life and what all my neighbours are doing. I usually live in the same spot for a long time, and I will tell you about the other animals that I see from my home – like crabs, starfish, cuttlefish and many more!

This blog is being posted for children on the Wildlife Trusts Wildlife Watch website.

Wildlife Watch Benny the Blenny’s blog that site also has lots of fun things to look at too.

You can also find out more about me on Bennytheblenny.com