Redspotted Blenny, Blenniella chrysospilos
In March, we visited Fiji for the first time since 2005 – ten years – I can’t believe it had been that long! This pretty much made Fiji “new” hunting grounds for me because our last visit was long before the launch of this blog and my quest to see as many blennies as possible. I didn’t see everything I wanted during a week at Lalati Resort and a second week aboard the Nai’a liveaboard dive boat – the Lady Musgrave Blenny still eludes me – but on the last dive of the trip, I did see one of my all-time favorites, the Redspotted Blenny, Blenniella chrysospilos. In fact, there were four of them, scampering around in a screaming current on the 2-meter deep reef top.
Highfin Fangblenny, Petroscirtes mitratus
In our previous post, I mentioned seeing the Smooth Fangblenny, Petroscirtes xestus, during a shore dive at Lalati Resort on Beqa Island. The encrusted dock pilings there also house a nice population of Highfin Fangblennies, so we were off to a good start.
Triplespot Blenny, Crossosalarius macrospilus
Once out on the Nai’a liveaboard, we visited dive sites that ranged from a mucky low-profile barrier reef to high profile, open ocean bommies. I always thought blennies were fairly site attached, never venturing far from a home reef but I spent a whole dive following a Triplespot Blenny, Crossosalarius macrospilus, as it roamed way beyond what I thought was a “safe” distance from the coral head where I found it. The very uniform polka dot pattern on this particular fish was striking and I understand their markings can be quite variable. On that same dive, I watched a Piano Fangblenny, Plagiotremus tapeinosoma, weave in and out of the anthias that blanketed the side and top of a small bommie.
Piano Fangblenny, Plagiotremus tapeinosoma
“Mimicry is hard to prove,” Ned warns every time I get all excited about spotting supposed model/mimics. A couple of years ago, I posted about this in The Blenny and the Bream. In Fiji, I spied the localized Canary Fangblenny, Meiacanthus oualanensis and its proposed mimic, the Fiji Fangblenny, Plagiotremus flavus and guess what was swimming around with them on almost every site where I saw them? Juvenile Bridled Breams, Scolopsis bilineatus, in their yellow phase. Very interesting that the juveniles of this species are found in four different color phases and in Fiji that color is bright yellow, matching the bright yellow of the blennies. A friend just sent more papers about mimicry in fishes, providing more interesting reading about this intriguing topic.
Canary Fangblenny, Meiacanthus oualanensis
Fiji Fangblenny, Plagiotremus flavus
Almost always nearby: A juvenile Bridled Bream in its yellow form.
We leave you with two more favorites the Fiji Clown Blenny, Ecsenius fijiensis and the Bicolor Blenny, Ecsenius bicolor. Blennies in the genus Ecsenius are the fishes that make blenny watching fun – once they get used to us, we can spend an entire dive watching them bob and skitter around a reef:
Fiji Clown Blenny Ecsenius fijiensis
Bicolor Blenny, Ecsenius bicolor