With people in lockdown all around the world we are all looking for inspiration from different avenues. As we dream of the ocean from the safety of our homes, I thought we could look towards the Blenny. A beautiful example of a stay at home fish. The Blenny is the common name of various species of extremely numerous small fishes belonging to the suborders Blennioidei (blennies) and Notothenioidei (Antarctic blennies). There are hundreds of different species of blennies around the world and they are all fascinating creatures. Here are some amazing facts about this stay at home fish that will hopefully inspire you.
1.They can be great copycats
Many blennies demonstrate mimicry of other species of fish. By mimicking other species it allows the blenny to get up close to other fish. For example, if they are mimicking a cleaner wrasse other fish pass by to let them clean. The blenny then takes nips or larger bites out of the unsuspecting fish.
2.They like to hide out
Many blennies have a secretive lifestyle. This protects them from predation. They hide on the sea floors in shallow water. Many of them with cryptic coloration making them very hard to spot.
3. They can have a nasty bite
One genus of blenny is truly venomous and that is the Meiacanthus. This particular blenny can inject venom from its mandibular, hollow fangs. Their venom contains an opioid-like protein which they use to defend themselves.
4.They like a varied menu
Many blennies are detritivorous. This means that they consume dead plant and animal matter. Some blenny species are mainly herbivorous, and others are partially to completely carnivorous.
5.They can hang out on the land too
One species of blenny is called the rockskipper (Istiblennius zebra).It is a small Hawaiian blenny and is a representative of several that live along shores and can hop about on land as well as hang out in ocean.
6.They are a unique fish when it comes to feeding their young
One species of blenny, the European eelpout or viviparous blenny (Zoarces viviparus) is very unique. They are native to the English Channel and Baltic sea. They are the only fish known to suckle its offspring. This is done when each young attaches its mouth to the opening of a canal inside the mother. The canal leads to an ovarian follicle, which then dispenses fats, proteins, fluid saturated with oxygen, and other nutrients to them.
7.They are small but mighty
With so many different species of blennies in the world they all have varying temperaments.Some are calm and some can be aggressive. An example if the The Hawaiian Runula goslinei and the Pacific R. tapeinosoma blennies. Both of these are small but will readily attack a swimmer or diver by biting them.
What an exciting start to 2020! We are bringing out a new scuba diving program for our interns and volunteers and it is all about one of our favorite critters here on the reef. The Octopus. The program is called Octopus Ecology and with it you will learn all about them.
The octopus is one of the most interesting creatures here on the reef. The are very often considered to be one of the most intelligent creatures of all invertebrates. They have three hearts and all of their tentacles have a mind of their own. That is three quick facts that are amazing.
During the program the following themes are covered;
the morphology of Octopus and the roles of them within the ecosystem. We also look at where to find Octopus on the reef and how do Octopus behave as well as learning how they feed and reproduce.
Finally we look at their conservation status and what species we can find locally as well as how we record and observe them. This is then followed by two dives on the reef observing and recording any data we have on them.
So, want to learn more? Then maybe you should sign up for our program. It is available as part of our Marine conservation internships and volunteer programs. It will be taught by our MCCR instructors and includes 2 dives out on the reef looking at Octopus habitats and behavior.
Octopus are some of our favorite squishy invertebrates of the reef. With their flashing colors and unique behavior it is always fun to look them out and find them. Apart from the fact they have 8 legs, (unless you are Hank from Finding Dory), what else do you know about them? Here are 5 fun facts that firmly put them in the awesome animal category!
Octopus have blue blood
Rather than the old boring red color, Octopus have blue blood. This is because of a protein that has copper atoms in it that binds itself to the same amount of oxygen atoms. This is completely different to our blood that has iron atoms in it. This protein is what allows the octopus to survive in very cold and very warm waters because it is transported to its vital tissues around their bodies
How many hearts?
An Octopus has 3 hearts of which 2 of them are pumping blood to the gills and the other one pumps blood to their organs. Octopus need more oxygen than other invertebrate species so their 3 hearts allows for them to have a steady flow of oxygen. Their copper based blood is not as good as iron based blood for transporting oxygen throughout the body so their three hearts compensate for that by pumping blood around at a higher pressure. Busy, busy, busy!
I thought a chicken had it bad..
Females usually lay around 200,000- 400,000 eggs which varies between species. Once laid, the female octopus guards the eggs until they are ready to hatch. After they hatch the females body essentially starts to destroy itself and the cells basically tear through her tissues and organs until she dies.
They could join mensa,
Well, maybe not, but Octopus are considered the most intelligent creature of all invertebrates. They have the largest brain to body mass ratio of any of the invertebrates. There have been many studies on octopus through maze and problem solving that have shown that octopus have long and short term memory. Hey, they can even predict world cup games apparently!
They have been around for a long time
The oldest known fossil of an octopus is 296 million year old. It is called the Pohlsepia. Researchers have identified marks of 8 arms, 2 eyes and even the possibility of an ink sac on the fossil.