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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sea Things #25: Secretary Blennies

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

It's MACRO MONTH!

For the month of November, Sea Things is going to be devoted to macro. That's right - all things small. One of the things that happens as you move from a newbie diver to a more experienced diver is that you start observing some of the smaller things on the reef. When you first start diving, it always seems like you're looking for the big guys - turtles, sharks, rays -- large things that are really exciting. However, there are many dives where you never see those things. Sometimes vis is bad, sometimes those big things are just not around. What then? Well, there are TONS and TONS of small, interesting things living all over the reef. They're often very common, and once you learn what to look for, they're easy to find. I love my magnifying glass, and I love looking at small things on a dive.



When we're talking about Secretary Blennies, we're talking about a fish that you're sure to miss if you're only looking at big stuff. These little guys only get to be about two inches in length at their biggest, but are usually between 3/4" and 1 1/2". That's pretty small.


Not only are they small in size, but most of the time you will only see just their heads sticking out of a small hole. They're found on cement that has been sunk, or on limestone or dead coral. They have a little hole, and they spend their time staring out of the little hole (but they usually stay in the hole, rather than hovering near like Yellowhead Jawfish do). Every so often, they'll jump out quickly and eat something, and then go right back to their hole. It happens so fast that if you blink, you'll miss it.

Usually, there are several Secretary Blennies found in one spot, and they can be territorial - you can sometimes see one try to get into the hole of the blenny next to him. They don't play nice.

If you want to find Secretary Blennies, it's best to try looking at dead coral areas or faces of limestone or cement. Often, if you see a few little holes, there are blennies living there. Usually, they won't retreat into their holes when you approach them unless you're really harassing them or being especially scary. Instead, you can just watch them and they are endlessly entertaining - still photographs don't quite do them justice. They look out their holes with their big eyes, and move the eyes around as if they're googly eyes. In fact, they're the closets to googly eyes I've ever seen in nature. I don't know of a diver hand signal for them, but Todd and I have made one up where you hold your index fingers on either side of your mask and move them in circles to indicate "CRAZY EYES". Secretary Blennies look crazy! I love them,though.



Do you like the weekly Sea Things? Want to see more? Want to have these lovely images in your home, keeping track of your important dates? If so, check out the 2010 Calendar Sale.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

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