Blennies & Gobies

Spending hours in the water every day, I began to notice small fish darting from every surface each time that I dove to take a closer look around.  As my eyes adjusted to their form of camouflage out popped another world of fish living in cracks, crevices and burrows.  Hence, my second underwater photography obsession of blennies and gobies, of which I'm accumulating another small library of photos.

My reef fish ID book mentions that although similar, gobies perch stiff and straight relying on camouflage, while blennies tend to perch in a curve.  Experience has also shown me that gobies are shy and harder to differentiate while blennies are colorful and pose playfully for the camera.

At first the larger and more common blennies & gobies became my muse.  The red-lipped blennies were well known to me from diving and snorkeling in the Eastern Caribbean.  Down here the gray variation is predominant over the familiar dark red-lipped blenny.  They are most often found perching on an outcrop overlording their rocky domains.  Learning to get closer without chasing them away has been fun to make out their fluffy cirri around their eyes.

Next, grazing bridled gobies were spotted out of the corner of my eye despite blending into the sand, while the common colon and yellowprow gobies are easy to find as they scoot around brain coral.

However, I still have a hard time telling the difference between a bridled goby and a goldspot goby, all of the yellow-striped gobies (yellownose, yellowprow, yellowline...), a colon goby from a spotted goby, or an orangeside goby from a leopard goby!  

The leopard and orangeside gobies are teeny at about 1/2 inch and were an exciting recent find for me.  Once detected hiding within cracks and holes in brain coral, I've seen about four of these on different occasions and was somewhat uncertain about proper identification.  (Later, after seeing an orangeside goby the bright orange cannot be mistaken).

Blennies on the other hand seem full of individual personality.  They pose for their photographs with fins erect, turning their best side to the camera.  Posturing on pectoral fins like this puffcheek blenny, they flex their stripes and flash their eyes to make sure you appreciate their performance.  

After finding and identifying the rosy blenny on several occasions, I recently found what I thought was a new species only to realize that it was a less colorful, female rosy blenny.

The similar roughhead and secretary blennies can often be found peeking pensively out of their home of a vacated worm hole, bright unblinking eyes giving their location away.  

This colorful saddled blenny jumped up and posed for me on a beautiful social tunicate underneath the canopy of a branched anemone.

© M&M 2016