More often than not, the horned blenny (Parablennius cornutus) will be seen in the attitude above – hiding (annoyingly) in a crevice or, as in this case, a vent on top of the superstructure of the wreck of the MV Aster.
On a dive on the Aster in mid February we spotted another specimen, lying on the deck towards the bow of the wreck. These fish are renowned for their skittishness, but this one was so relaxed that I had to check with Guido at SURG that I was in fact making the correct identification! Guido has written more than one volume on identifying marine life in the area and is working on a book project at the moment, so he’s the man to speak to.
Guido says that what has previously been thought to be a horned blenny (i.e. this fish) is actually something else. He says:
Instead, this species is Chaloderma capito, the loose-skin blenny. In many instances this is clearly visible, as especially around the head the skin has many folds. This is visible in your specimen as well.
In fact, horned blennies are really hard to find and see, and it turns out that several of the books on marine life in this area mistake the loose skinned blenny for the horned blenny. Guido sent me a picture of a real horned blenny, and instead of the fluffy tufts that this specimen has above its eyes, it has two very distinctive, long, pointy horns that give it its name.
Science in action! What would we do without SURG! I certainly wouldn’t know one tenth as much as I do about marine life in the Cape were it not for Guido and company’s frequent help with tricky questions of fish identification.