Thursday, January 17, 2013

Most Wanted : Blennies galore!

Blennies, blennies, blennies. I love them! As far as I'm aware there are ten "blenny" species in U.K. waters and so far I've only caught three of them. I've caught hundreds of common blennies, a few tompot blennies and a single butterfish. For completeness here's a quick guide to all of them, some of which I'd really like to catch!

Black Faced Blenny.

Not really a true blenny but a "blenny like fish". Great way to start a blenny post I hear you say! They are in fact a type of triplefin. Delais' Triplefin to be precise. Cool looking little fish. Too cool not to include I thought. Males and females are quite different with the male, top, being much more colourful, particularly whilst breeding. Normally found in the Mediterranean, these have now been discovered around some of the Channel Islands and also in a few small areas on the south coast of England.
Males swim in a figure of eight to impress the female during mating rituals. Kinky.


Also known as rock gunnel these fish are relatively common in some areas. Inhabiting the intertidal areas of many beaches, they can often be found seeking shelter under rocks and amongst the weed some rockpools as I discovered last year. They can also be found in harbours. Long and slender with distinctive dark spots along base of their dorsal fins they are easy to identify and they are called butterfish for a reason, they are extremely slippery!

Butterfly Blenny.

Wow! What a stunning blenny. Unmistakable with its large sail like dorsal fin and vivid black spot with light halo. Found around the south western coast of England.Certainly a blenny I'm hoping to catch in the summer.

Common Blenny.

Well these cheeky chappies should need no introduction. Also known as the shanny they are very aggressive and full of character. They are the reason I love blennies so much and can be found all around the country in rockpools and harbours. Careful handling is required though, they can and will bite!

Montagu's Blenny.

From above Montagu's blenny can be mistaken for a common blenny. Note the white/pale blue spots though.
Like the majority of other blenny species, Montagu's blenny has a lappet on its head. Quite unique however in that instead of two separate structures, in Montagu's blenny it takes the form of a single fringed flap.

Red Blenny.

Another beautiful blenny! No mistaking this one that's for sure with its red colouration, electric blue fin highlights and distinct dark spot at the front of its dorsal fin. Also known as the Portuguese blenny this fish is now being spotted around the south western coast of England and as for north as the west coast of Scotland.

Snake Blenny.

Very aptly named. A very long slender blenny with a pink and violet colouration with brown spots. More common around the coast of Norway it can also be found around the northern coast of Scotland. I think this may perhaps be the hardest blenny to track down and catch in U.K. waters.

Tompot Blenny.

A common catch around the rockpools and harbours of the south western coast of England and the Channel Islands this blenny has quite a chunky, stout appearance, is normally a mottled brown colour, can have an orange shade to fin edges and has a lappet in the form of two little antlers.

Viviparous Blenny.

Also known as eelpout it's easy to see why. Like the black faced blenny it's not technically a blenny. It does look like a common blenny, just a very long one and can be over double the length of one.
Like common blennies, viviparous blennies seem to like to live in groups.

Yarrell's Blenny.

Another quite distinct blenny. A brown and pink mottled colouration along with a long body. This species has a lappet consisting of two branched antlers as well as two small but similar structures on the tips of the first and second dorsal fin rays. Put these all together and we have a set of very unique key distinguishing features. Another fish found around St Abbs Head so perhaps a potential target whilst I'm down there waiting for an Atlantic wolf fish taking my bait!

I hope you've found this quick look at U.K. blennies interesting. Hopefully I'll succeed in crossing a few of them of my most wanted list this year! Finally a big thanks to the photographers of some of the above images who gave me permission to use them. Below is a series of links that will take you to various sites where you can view more of their excellent work.

Tight lines, Scott.

Portuguese photographer Vasco Ferreira's dive center facebook page.

The website of Italian photographer Alessandro Falleni.

An educational photographic resource and stock image library of the sea, maritime environment, marine and rockpool life in the coastal waters of south west England by David Fenwick.

The website supplementing Paul Kay's book "A Field Guide to the MARINE FISHES of WALES and Adjacent Waters". Signed copies of this book can be bought via this site.

UWPhoto ANS is a stock photo agency with images mainly from the colder areas of the globe. The work of Norwegian photographer Erling Svensen along with others can be seen here.

The website of Dutch photographer Arne Kuilman.

Biopix, a collection of biological photos, primarily from Scandinavia.

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