Tompot blenny

Scientific name: Parablennius gattorugine
This clown-like fish is a favourite amongst divers and snorkellers. They are inquisitive little souls and will investigate divers near their hidey-hole homes.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 30cm

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

The tompot blenny is a medium-sized, elongated fish with a large head and big eyes. It has distinctive frilly tentacles on the top of its head - for which it has been given the nickname "the fish with antlers"! They live in crevices in rocky reefs and are highly territorial - if you return to the same spot, you'll see the same fish in its hidey-hole. They live in shallow seas, but small Tompot Blennies are occasionally spotted in rockpools. They have sharp teeth and feed on animals on the seabed like sea anemones.

How to identify

The largest British blenny. It is orangey-brown in colour, sometimes greenish, with mottled markings and several darker bars running down the body. It has two large branched tentacles on its head that look a bit like antlers.

Distribution

Found around the south and west coasts of the UK. Mostly absent in the North Sea.

Did you know?

It is the male tompot blenny that guards the eggs! The males spring clean their crevices, removing any mud and unwanted barnacles that might have settled over the winter. The best crevices attract the best females and once the female has laid the precious eggs, the father will fertilise them and then guard them for over a month against hungry predators. During the breeding season, enlarged glands are visible on the males belly - these are used to release pheromones to attract females.

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any seaweed you move out of the way, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages. You can learn more about blennies from a famous blogging blenny called Benny - follow his blog at www.bennytheblenny.com/blog/