Fangs!

Fangblenny baring its fangs

This is why they are called Fangblennies (video frame capture)

This is why they are called Fangblennies! Dr. William Smith-Vaniz’s 1976 monograph, The Saber-toothed Blennies, Tribe Nemophini, was a must-read when we started diving in the Indo-Pacific many years ago, but it was the cover of his publication (see below) showing the recurved canine teeth of the lower jaw, that turned these cute little reef fish into the stuff of nightmares and inspired my quest to see them for myself.

Blenny in a bottle - Petroscirtes brevicepsSaber-toothed, a.k.a., fangblennies, with the exception of one species in the eastern Pacific, are found in the Indo-Pacific. Unlike other blennies, most saber-toothed blennies have a swim bladder and can often be seen swimming up in the water column. They get their common name from the well developed, backward pointing canine teeth in their lower jaw that are used for defense.

The Saber-toothed Blennies, Tribe Nemophini by Dr. William Smith-Vaniz

The Saber-toothed Blennies, Tribe Nemophini by Dr. William Smith-Vaniz, cover image used with permission

In addition to describing these blennies, Bill collaborated on research of mimetic relationships among blennies and tested the toxicity of fangblenny bites by inducing a couple of different species to bite him on the midriff and arm – yeow! It was noted in one of his papers, “The few people who have accidentally or deliberately been bitten by a Meiacanthus experienced only mild pain, but swelling surrounding the site of the fang punctures indicated a biological response disproportional to the mechanical injury.” That’s all I needed to read to know that this was not the way I wanted to see fangs – blenny wrangling was out and stalking became the name of the game. Roger Steene has a classic shot of a blenny baring its fangs so I knew it was possible to see it, I just didn’t know it would take me 12 years!

I’ve had tantalizing glimpses of the fangs of other species, but this Petroscirtes (I’m pretty sure it is P. breviceps, the Shorthead Fangblenny) living in a bottle in Lembeh Strait, is the closest I have come. It gave me one quick snap and it was enough to get the video frame capture used at the beginning of this post.  Ned is still trying to capture this with his camera but you can see from the video, how fast he’ll have to be to get it.  You can watch the entire, very quick encounter on this video on our Blennywatcher YouTube channel:

References:

Mimetic Relationships Involving Fishes of the Family Blenniidae, Springer, Victor G., Smith-Vaniz, William F.

Meiacanthus urostigma, a New Fangblenny from the Northeastern Indian Ocean, with Discussion and Examples of Mimicry in species of Meiacanthus (Teleostei: Blenniidae: Nemophini).  Smith-Vaniz, William F.,  Satapoomin, Ukkrit, Allen, Gerald R.

Caribbean Invertebrate Quiz

For the past two weeks, we challenged you to test your identification skills on invertebrate close-ups from the Indo-Pacific. As promised, here is a Caribbean invertebrate quiz. These images are close-ups of invertebrates that are found in the waters of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. Click on each image to reveal the entire animal:

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Do you know what this is? Click on the image to reveal.

Quiz3 Image1

What about this? Click on image to reveal.

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Hope you have enjoyed these past few posts – we’ll be back with more from time to time ~ the Blennywatchers

Invertebrate Quiz #2

A few days ago, we posted an invertebrate quiz made up of five close-up images that could be clicked on to reveal the entire animal. Response was good, so here are five more from the Indo-Pacific to try out:

Invertebrates image1 quiz 1

Do you know what this is? Click in the image to reveal the entire animal.

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Click on this image to reveal the entire animal.

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Invertebrates image4 quiz1

Invertebrates - image2 quiz1

Check back with us soon. We’ll post invertebrates from the Caribbean next.

 

Invertebrates!

Invertebrates! Animals without backbones. Today we are celebrating the diversity and beauty of Earth’s 97% with a little quiz. Here is your chance to test your knowledge and enjoy some of our favorite marine invertebrates from the Indo-Pacific.

To take the quiz, scroll down and see if you recognize the invertebrate. Click on each photo to [...]