Blenny Challenge Week 3

Susan Porter blenny watching
Susan Porter (Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy) demonstrates a technique of blenny watching.

Bonaire, September 2013 ~ Week 3 of our Blenny Challenge and we’re a bit silly and punchy from being tossed around in the surf. We wanted to explore the east side of the island – the windward, or Wild Side as it is known – but conditions have to be absolutely perfect in order for us to enter the water with our cameras and roll around in 2 to 5 feet of water for 2 hours. We watched weather sites and made phone calls to calculate the best day to make the thirty-minute drive across the island to Boca Onima only to have to turn around twice. When Ned and I dived here last year with Bas Tol (Bas Diving), the surge was too strong for me to get adequate video of the Longhorn Blenny, so I was determined to get it this year. (click here for the post and video about our 2012 Longhorn Blenny hunt). Finally, on the third trip over, we made it in. While Ned made a traitorous turn to hunt for Greenband and Nineline Gobies, Susan Porter (Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy), Lisa Pawley and I hunted for blennies. The Longhorns were there along with about ten thousand Goldline Blennies.

Longhorn Blenny Ned DeLoach
Longhorn Blenny (Hypsoblennius exstochilus) photo taken in 2012 during our Boniare east coast dive.

Back on the calm side of the island, we spent some time along the shore looking for the really tiny blennies of the genus Emblemariopsis, species known only from the tropical western Atlantic. This is a maddening endeavor as the males and females have significantly different coloration so when you throw into the mix the juveniles, which look like the females, and nuptial males that take on really different color patterns, it gets totally crazy. An interesting example of the work combining macro photography and DNA sampling to sort these tiny fishes out is in a paper by our friend Dr. Ben Victor, where he described two new species of Emblemariopsis (click here  to access the paper).

Blenny - Emblemariopsis sp. Ned DeLoach
Emblemariopsis sp. male in his nuptial colors – such a dignified looking blenny!

The Tessellated Blenny continues to elude us. We know it is here; there are too many confirmed sightings by experts (including photos) so we are doubling down on the effort – there are more pier pilings to inspect! Stay tuned for the results ~ The BlennyWatchers