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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:

  • Olive green body with small, dark spots on the head
  • Scaleless body
  • Long, continuous dorsal fins along the 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.
  • Grow 3-4 inches long

Habitat:

  • Usually live among oyster reefs, but may also be found within eelgrass beds
  • Move to the Bay’s deeper channels in winter

Range:

  • Abundant year-round Chesapeake Bay residents
  • Striped blennies are usually found in the middle and lower Bay
  • Feather blennies are common throughout the Bay

Feeding:

  • Mainly eat small mollusks and crustaceans

Predators:

  • Larger fish such as striped bass, bluefish and weakfish
  • Hides from predators within small crevices of oyster reefs

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawn 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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