Let’s take a look to the Conero blennies.

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italiano (Italian)

These little animals are anything but an “unexpected meeting” in our area. Until not so long ago I considered them not so interesting, but by diving in the tropical waters, I realized that I often photographed them. So, I thought that it could be a good idea to observe the “house species”; they are few steps away and they are also many: is it possible that they are so insignificant compared to their cousins of the warm seas?

Mystery blenny – Parablennius incognitus

I am aware that looking for blennies might make you laugh, but I did it and I got my small photographic satisfactions. They are shy animals, but at the same time very curious and if you give them enough time, they can offer you funny and interesting experiences. They usually live in the tidal zone, some species can reach up to 20 centimeters in length as Tompot blenny (Parablennius gattorugine), although average length is 8-10 centimeters. The body has no scales and is covered with mucus, hence its name (not particularly noble).

Tompot blenny – Parablennius gattorugine

Long stripped blenny – Parablennius rouxi

In our area their body background colour is often dark with shades verging on brown and green, with some exceptions as for example Long striped blenny (Parablennius rouxi). On this background are often drawn brightly coloured patterns. They have small horns (cephalic tentacles) on the head that, together with the livery, can help to identify the species. 

In the picture below a specimen of Tentacled blenny (Parablennius tentacularis). This species usually has bigger cephalic tentacles, feature that could be misleading for its identification, but the many secondary short and thin branches that come off the two main tentacles, are one of the peculiar feature of the species.

Tentacled blenny – Parablennius tentacularis

Blennies have no swim bladder, but as they spend their life “walking” on the reef, they would not use it so much. They belong to the family of Blenniidae, order Perciformes, to which belong most of the fish that we normally see while diving.

Zvonimiri’s blenny – Parablennius zvonimiri

In just one dive at “Trave” (very famous dive spot in Conero) it is possible to see 5 or 6 different species of blennies, usually grouped into clans more or less numerous, often peeking out of small holes or empty mussel shells. I have recognized 9 species in our area, but for sure there are many others. Tompot blenny, Mystery blenny, Long striped blenny, Tentacled blenny and Zvonimiri’s blenny are the most common species. Rusty blenny and Caneva’s blenny are more difficult to see. Peacock blenny and Sphinx blenny would be quite common, but as they usually live in shallow water, they easily pass unnoticed to divers.

Rusty blenny – Parablennius sanguinolentus

Peacock blenny – Salaria pavo

I think that blennies are a very interesting and educational training for underwater photographers. A sort of gym to train yourself to seize the right moment, to approach the subject with patience and look for the right lighting and background, all in an easy condition. Even without a camera, I think these small fish are really very funny!

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italiano (Italian)

Leave a Reply