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
Olive green body with small, dark spots on the head
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
Usually live among oyster reefs, but may also be found within eelgrass beds
Move to the Bay’s deeper channels in winter
Abundant year-round Chesapeake Bay residents
Striped blennies are usually found in the middle and lower Bay
Feather blennies are common throughout the Bay
Mainly eat small mollusks and crustaceans
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
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:
Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick