If you dive with us in Dauin, you will likely descend along a mooring line. Take a careful look at these thick ropes, and you will discover a few interesting animals: tunicates, sponges, barnacles, and, most interestingly the fangblennies. Elongated fishes about the length of a cigar, they play and forage among all the invertebrates overgrowing their man-made home.
Blennies are a family of small (mostly) marine fishes with about 400 species. In Dauin you can easily observe several different species. The aforementioned fangblennies are especially fun to watch – they are in fact outfitted with a pair of huge (in relation to their tiny body size) fangs, which are venomous in some species. The striped poison-fangblenny is one such dangerous blenny – while a fangblenny bite will not kill you, it hurts surprisingly bad for such a small fish. This powerful weapon makes the fangblennies so self-confident that they forage and dance in the current even right in front of us divers. You will usually find these blennies in small groups of individuals of several different sizes.
Not only do blennies like to make mooring lines their homes, they generally enjoy man-made structures as dwellings. Look in discarded beer-bottles underwater: many of them will have a blenny in them, almost like a real-life genie.
Not a Goby
Another small, mostly bottom-dwelling family of marine fishes are the gobies. How can you tell a goby apart from a blenny? One way is to look at their heads: many blennies have these little antlers above their eyes, which gobies lack. Also, gobies tend to perch in the sand or on rocks with their bodies straightened out, while blennies sit with their bodies curved to one side.
Dauin Blenny Weirdness
As usual, Dauin has some unusual fishes, also when it comes to the blennies. On “Secret Corner” a bit south of Salaya I once photographed this hairtail blenny, which looks more like an eel, but definitely is a blenny.
Lastly, let me mention the great Blennywatcher.com website, run by Anna and Ned DeLoach, which is a great spot to read about marine animals, especially (as the name implies!) blennies.