Mimicry: The Blenny and the Bream

Blenny and Mimic Ned DeLoach BlennyWatcher.com

Striped Fangblenny and its mimc, a juvenile Bridled Monocle Bream

Lembeh Strait, Indonesia ~ October 2012 Here is one of my favorite examples of mimicry in fishes: a Striped Fangblenny (Meiacanthus grammistes) model and its mimic, a juvenile bream, Scolopsis bilineatus. Neither fish is that uncommon on the Indo-Pacific reefs where we dive but this was the first time I took the time to follow a little Bridled Monocle Bream to see if it would lead me to the blenny that it is known to mimic. The relationship of this bream to the blenny is an example of Batesian mimicry: the juvenile bream exhibits a color pattern similar to the venomous fangblenny and thereby gains some protection from predators. Over the past couple of years I have been paying special attention to and trying to document on video as many instances of mimicry in marine fish and critters as possible. Several peer reviewed papers and popular articles (links at the end of this post) explain the various types of mimicry and provided photo examples that helped me create a target list. One of the papers notes the similarity in the swimming patterns of the bream and the blenny – something that is pretty evident in my short video:

Here is info about mimicry papers/articles that I find interesting. I’ve cited this one before: Dr. Jack Randall’s, A Review of Mimicry in Marine Fishes  - it has loads of photo examples. Another paper from about the same time: Ecology and Evolution of Mimicry in Coral Reef Fishes by Moland, et. al. – I don’t remember how I obtained a copy of this paper – it is available online by subscription but I think you can find a copy if you dig through the searches enough.  A fairly recent article in the popular press: “Hide & Seek in the Sea”, by our friend Douglas Seifert is available online by subscribing to Dive Magazine’s digital edition – it is free and you get access to past issues, including the August 2012 issue that contains his excellent article about camouflage and mimicry.

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