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Blennies

Feather blennies have two feathery, branching tentacles on the head. The body is covered with small dark spots that sometimes form lines or bars. (Virginia Institute of Marine Science)
Feather blennies have two feathery, branching tentacles on the head. The body is covered with small dark spots that sometimes form lines or bars. (Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

Blennies are small, brightly colored fish that live in the Chesapeake Bay year-round, mostly among oyster reefs.

Two species of blennies can be found in the Chesapeake Bay:

  • Striped blenny, Chasmodes bosquianus
  • Feather blenny, Hypsoblennius hentz

Appearance:

The blenny's scaleless body grows 3 to 4 inches in length and is olive green in color with small, dark spots on the head. Long, continuous dorsal fins run along its back. Striped blennies have lines that run along the sides: males are bright blue and females are pale green. Males also have a bright blue spot at the front of the dorsal fin and an orange band running along the fin’s entire length. Feather blennies have two feathery, branching tentacles on the head. The body is covered with small, dark spots that sometimes form lines or bars.

Habitat:

Usually live among oyster reefs, but may also be found within eelgrass beds. In winter, they move to the Bay’s deeper channels.

Range:

Abundant year-round in the Chesapeake Bay. Striped blennies are usually found in the middle and lower Bay, while feather blennies are common throughout the Bay.

Feeding:

Blennies mainly eat small mollusks and crustaceans.

Predators:

Larger fish such as striped bass, bluefish and weakfish will prey on blennies, who hide from predators within the small crevices of oyster reefs.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Spawning occurs from early spring through August. Females lay round, amber-colored eggs inside of empty oyster shells, usually within live oyster reefs. Males aggressively guard the eggs until they hatch.

Other Facts:

  • Though they are abundant, blennies are solitary, secretive fish and are not frequently seen. With a little luck you may find one hiding within an empty oyster shell in the Bay’s shallows.

Sources and Additional Information:




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