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Caribbean Creatures: Blennies

By wpdev February 7, 2013
Spinyhead Blenny hiding in a small coral cave.
Peek-a-boo!  This blenny is hiding in a small coral cave.

Say hello to this cute little fish!  They are easy to miss if you aren’t looking for them.  Blennies are one of the many smaller, bottom dwelling fishes you have the opportunity to encounter while snorkeling or scuba diving along Caribbean coral reefs.

Most blennies are only 1 – 3 inches in length and have slender ventral (bottom) fins that allow them to cling to and perch on the bottom.

Blennies appear to lounge when they are resting, and curve and flex their bodies when they swim.  (Gobies, similar in body shape, hold their bodies very straight and rigid instead).  The other way to know that you are looking at a blenny is to look at its face.  Most of them have little appendages, called cirri, on their snout and/or head.  Cirri look like spiky hair or funny eyebrows!

Spinyhead blenny hiding in a sponge.
This Spinyhead blenny blends in with the sponge.

These shy little guys tend to hide in their homes with only their heads exposed.  They live in small spaces like abandoned worm tubes and sponges.  They rely on camouflage and most species even have the ability to change their colors and patterns – wow!  There are many species with a wide variety of colors, markings, and odd fin shapes.

Keep your eyes peeled as you explore the reef.  Divers can usually get a pretty close look before the shy fish retreat into their homes.  Move slowly as you approach them, and you will be surprised at the great photo ops you’ll have!  And if you’re patient enough you may see a blenny rush out to grab a bit of food floating by.

Interested in learning more about Caribbean marine life first hand?  Be sure to check out our adventure camps!  In addition to sailing and watersports, Sail Caribbean camps also offer scuba certifications and marine biology programs during the summer.

The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.