WTF? (WHAT’S THAT FISH?) 13: THE ROUGHHEAD BLENNY
The WTF? series has looked at a number of bizarre reef denizens, and this little fish is certainly that. For a start, its ‘correct’ name is Acanthemblemaria aspera, an excellent challenge for saying 10 times very quickly **. And the name blenny comes from the Greek word for ‘slime’, quite enough to make the poor creature a laughing-stock in the reef community.
There are in fact several hundred blenny species and subspecies around the world. The roughhead is one of the most commonly found in western Atlantic subtropical and tropical waters. These are burrowing creatures, and they find holes in the nooks and crannies of coral reefs – and indeed in the coral itself. Brain coral seems to be a preferred location. Mollusc shells are another. Or they may just bury themselves in the sea floor.
The ‘roughness’ of head refers to the whiskery appendages (cirri) on a blenny’s blunt bonce – slender tendril or hair-like filaments. The word cirri is the plural version of the wispy high altitude cirrus clouds that streak the sky. These tendrils are shown clearly in some of the photos here, despite the tiny size of the fish (± 1 inch).
THESE GUYS LOOK A BIT PRIMITIVE, AM I RIGHT?
To be precise – as far as is possible – blennies can be dated back to the Paleocene Era (or is it an Epoch?). This spanned a period
You can find out more about roughheads in this excellent eHow video I came across after I’d written this post, to which I should now add that there is considerable colour variation in this subspecies, as you may already have noticed…
** You can also try this with ‘Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’. Yes I know. Maddening, isn’t it. You can’t stop now you’ve started. Sorry…
Credits: all photo, Melinda Riger; video, eHow