We just wrapped up week 2 of the Bonaire Blenny Challenge and we are on a roll! Following a suggestion from our friend, Bonaire naturalist Jerry Ligon, we visited his home reef, Bari and scored with an Orange-spotted Blenny, Hypleurochilus springeri. We first dived with Jerry on a REEF Field survey back in the ’90s and he is still one of the best sources on the island for fish and bird watching (check out his Biological Tours of Bonaire).
On Bari Reef, we also found a tiny Starksia, from the S. hassi complex, perched in a vase sponge. There have been many interesting developments with the Starksias over the past few years. Seven new species were described two years ago (link to that paper is here) and a number of others are in the process of being described. DNA analysis is revealing that many known species are actually a complex of species with similar appearance and with much smaller ranges.
Team Buddy (Eunice, Christine and Toni) took up the blenny challenge and headed out with me to see how many blennies we could find on the Buddy Dive house reef. Blennywatcher reader, Rick Francis commented last week that he saw Tessellated Blennies on the pilings of the dock when he was here recently. Everyone was keen to look for Sailfin Blennies so we mapped out a route that had us hunting over the expanse of sand between the resort and the reef, back to bounce around in the surge in the rocks and along the sea wall and under the docks. No Tessellated blennies, but we found another group of Orange-spotted Blennies on the dock pilings. We finished up at Medusa Rock, a small rock that has for at least the past five years, been home to a colony of Medusa Blennies, including a lovely green variation of this animated fish. We found 14 blenny species during the 75-minute dive, bringing our species count up to 18. We’ve been trying to get over the windward east coast, a.k.a., the Wild Side, to pick up a few more species and reports say the wind will be down tomorrow so stay tuned! ~ The Blennywatchers