Calm seas marked our Bonaire Blenny Challenge week 4, enabling us to get into some really shallow areas. Years ago, during a REEF field survey trip, local members showed me a Twinhorn Blenny (Coralliozetus cardonae) but it was so tiny, I didn’t realize how beautifully marked the males are. Then a few years ago, I saw a photo taken in 2001 by our friends, the Wilk family (of ReefNet fame) and the fish went onto my target list. Les Wilk recounted their find in his article for the Bonaire Reporter and noted that scientists at the Smithsonian commented that their photo was the first they had seen of the fish in its natural environment (click here to read his article). Last week, during our dive on the East Coast, Lisa Pawley showed one to Ned but the surge made photography a challenge. The following day, she found more on the west side of the island – again, tough to shoot. I, with a newly acquired search image, even found them on Klein Bonaire this week. Though we found them as deep as 20 feet on the east side of the island, over on the west side where we do most of our diving they like the very surgy water in the intertidal.
The Pearl Blenny (Entomacrodus nigricans) is another that we see, fleetingly, on many shore dives. Like the Twinhorns, they live in abandoned worm tubes in extremely shallow water. REEF peeps Lillian Kenny, Rich and Madelyn Setterberg took the blenny challenge dive off the Buddy dock with me and returned with 14 species, including a few Pearl blennies out of their holes. This has to be the most difficult fish to show to someone because, unlike many other fishes that will give you a few seconds, the Pearl Blenny usually flees in a flash. We normally see just their fat little heads peeping out of holes, but these actually remained immobile, allowing us a good look.
Seaweed Blennies (Parablennius marmoreus) have many looks, ranging from dark brown to golden yellow, but the ones on Bonaire are particularly colorful. They don’t seem to be as common here as they are in Florida but there were plenty of them on dock pilings. We took advantage of the windless day on Friday and made it to the southern tip of the island where we added the Imitator Blenny to our life lists then spent Saturday morning exploring the sailboat mooring blocks in town, where Ned is obsessed with the tiny Emblemariopsis. Stayed tuned for the results of our final week on Bonaire. ~ The Blennywatchers