A thoughtful Dad

Tompot blenny RL 1207 133

I’m thinking about my babies (tompot blenny larvae) swimming, eating and developing in the plankton, I hope they are OK.

It reminded me of this excellent video called ‘The Power of Plankton’ from SAHFOS* which promotes the importance of plankton – the amazing drifting part of my underwater world.

Did you know that the PLANT PLANKTON (phytoplankton) PRODUCES almost 50% of the WORLD’S OXYGEN? That’s one of the reasons why caring for our seas is so important!

By watching the video I also learnt that my babies are classed as MEROPLANKTON, along with the eggs, larvae and juveniles of many different types of fish. This also includes the young stages of other marine animals such as barnacles, crabs, starfish and sea anemones.

You can watch this video and learn all about these things for yourself here: wtru.st

Many thanks to SAHFOS *Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science www.sahfos.ac.uk for producing ‘The Power of the Plankton’ video.

Benny the Blenny’s babies have left home!

This video shows what my babies look like when they have left home, having just 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 5-10 mm long.

By eating 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 feel they are about to be grabbed!

If you would like to find out more about plankton visit
www.lifeadrift.info

Thank you to the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth for their help in obtaining this video.

 

If you’d like to see the video again or look at more of Paul Naylor’s videos on Vimeo click  vimeo.com

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.

Tompot blenny territory

Blenny cliff, wide-angle & wrasse 1

I haven’t had a chance to show you round where I live yet. My very desirable crevice home is in this rocky reef. At low tide the top of my reef is in water about 2 metres deep. Tompot blennies like me have been spotted around most of Great Britain and Ireland; see the map in my blog of 4th June 2015.

Divers and snorkellers can only come and visit me when the sea is very calm and clear like it is in this photograph. When the sea is rough and stirred up, it gets very murky so the divers would get washed around and not be able to see anything or take photos. There’s more information about my home at www.bennytheblenny.com

No more floor space

Tompot blenny RL 1208 140

Belinda has been back twice more. The last time she visited, she had to turn upside down to lay her eggs on my ceiling as we’ve run out of space on the floor. Of course I had to turn upside down to fertilise them too! It’s quite easy for us to roll over like this. We use our pelvic (hip) and pectoral (shoulder) fins to grip the rock and keep us in position in the narrow crevice. That’s Belinda on the right, she’s cute isn’t she?

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!