The seaweed blenny, Parablennius marmoreus,
is one of several species of combtooth blennies belonging to
the family Blenniidae.
This combtooth blenny has 35-43 comb-like
incisors (Lindquist & Dillaman 1986) in addition to upper
and lower canines (Ditty et al. 2005). The body of
P. marmoreus is tan to rusty orange with scattered
or clustered dark brown spots and a bronze area on the top of
the head (Robins & Ray 1986). A wide dusky stripe extends
from the eye toward the caudal fin on each side, most visible
above the pectoral fin and usually fading on the rear of the
body. The ventral surface of the head is whitish. The filamentous
appendage above each eye, called the cirrus, is branched in
this species. Fin rays and other meristic counts are as follows:
dorsal spines = 6-7; dorsal soft rays = 17-18; total anal elements
= 21-22; total vertebrae = 36; pelvic spines and rays = 1 and
3, respectively; pectoral fin rays = 14; and upper, primary
and lower caudal fin rays = 6, 13 and 6, respectively (Ditty et al. 2005).
Potentially Misidentified Species
Several species of combtooth blennies inhabit
the IRL and surrounding coastal waters. Of these, the most closely
related and morphologically similar species are the pearl blenny,
Entomacrodus nigricans; and the molly miller, Scartella
cristata (Robins & Ray 1986). The dorsal fin of the
pearl blenny is deeply notched, with the spinous section low
and straight-edged. The body is brown with irregular large dark
brown bars, blackish and pearly white spots. Dark bands are
also present on the lips and cheeks. The maximum size of E.
nigricans is 10 cm, slightly larger than the seaweed blenny.
The molly miller also reaches lengths of 10 cm, but has a row
of comb-like cirri down the middle of the head anterior to the
dorsal fin. Like P. marmoreus, the cirrus above each
eye is branched. The body is olive brown with darker markings
and occasional pearly white spots, and the caudal fin is usually
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The range of the seaweed blenny extends
from New York to the northern Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, and the
Bahamas to northern South America (Robins & Ray 1986). Like
other combtooth blennies, P. marmoreus can be found
in rocky intertidal zones, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, or among
litter such as cans and bottles strewn on the benthos. The seaweed
blenny is also found on nearshore reefs, around buoys and pilings,
and offshore around oil and gas platforms (Ditty et al.
The IRL, the seaweed blenny occurs
in several habitats. However, it seems to be most abundant around
inlets where it is associated with rocky seawalls, jetties,
buoys and pilings.
LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan
Information concerning the maximum age
and average lifespan of P. marmoreus is lacking. Growth
rates vary with environmental conditions, food availability
and other factors. The maximum reported size for the seaweed
blenny is 8.5 cm (Robins & Ray 1986).
Little information is available on the
abundance of P. marmoreus. However, surveys reported
up to 30 individuals throughout twenty-seven 500 m3
transects on the artificial reefs of the Flower Garden Banks
National Marine Sanctuary located in the northwestern Gulf of
Mexico (Rooker et al. 1997).
Like most other blennies, egg deposition
and development occurs on the benthos. After fertilization is
complete, all the females of a single male mate deposit eggs
on a protected surface, such as: empty bivalve shells, holes
in rocks, sponges, or inside discarded cans (Peters 1981). The
parental male then guards the clutches until hatching (Labelle
& Nursall 1992).
Embryology & Larval Development
Information regarding the gestation period
and embryology of P. marmoreus is lacking. Larvae range
between 5.8 and 16.0 mm in length, bearing an average of 9 teeth.
Once the larvae settle at a length of 19.0 to 20.5 mm, they
have up to 22 teeth (Ditty et al. 2003, 2005). Pectoral
fin pigmentation is generally absent until just before settlement
(Ditty et al. 2005).
Temperature & Salinity
Little temperature and salinity tolerance
data are available for the seaweed blenny. Because it ranges
from temperate to tropical coastal habitats, it is likely that
environmental tolerances of this species are quite large.
The seaweed blenny uses its beak-like lower
jaw to pick at organisms on the benthos and among fouling communities.
Common prey items and other foods include a variety of polychaetes,
crustaceans, hydroids and algae (Lindquist & Dillaman 1986,
Longley & Hildebrand 1941, Randall 1967).
While information regarding specific predators
of the seaweed blenny is scarce, it is likely that this species
is preyed upon by larger demersal fishes and crustaceans such
as crabs and lobsters.
Like other combtooth blennies, P. marmoreus
is diurnal, actively feeding and engaging in other behaviors
during the day (Robins & Ray 1986, Rooker et al. 1997).
No known obligate associations exist for
P. marmoreus. However, as inhabitants of a variety
of coastal ecosystems, seaweed blennies are associated with
several organisms common to seagrass beds, oyster reefs, rocky
intertidal zones and nearshore reefs. For extensive lists of
other species found throughout the ecosystems in which P.
marmoreus occurs, please refer to the 'Habitats of the
IRL' link at the left of this page.
No information is available at this time
Bath, H. 1977. Revision der Blenniini (Pisces: Blenniidae).
Senckenberg. Biol. 57: 167-234.
Bath, H. 1990. Taxonomie und Verbreitung
von Parablennius Ribeiro 1915 an der W Kuste Afrikas
und Kapverdischen Inseln mit Revalidation von P. verryckeni
(Poll 1959) und Beschreibung drei neuer Arten. Senckenberg.
Biol. 70: 15-69.
Ditty, JG. 2002. Ontogeny and intervals
of development in five reef-associated species of blenny from
the northern Gulf of Mexico (Teleostei: Blenniidae). PhD
Dissertation. LA State Univ. USA. 168 pp.
Ditty, JG, Fuiman, LA & RF Shaw. 2003.
Characterizing natural intervals of development in the early
life of fishes: an example using blennies (Teleostei: Blenniidae).
In: Browman, HI & AB Skiftesvik. The big fish
bang. 405-418. Proc. 26th Annual Larv. Fish Conf. Institute
of Marine Research. Bergen, Norway.
Ditty, JG, Shaw, RF & LA Fuiman. 2005.
Larval development of five species of blenny (Teleostei: Blenniidae)
from the western North Atlantic, with a synopsis of blennioid
family characters. J. Fish Biol. 66: 1261-1284.
Labelle, M & JR Nursall. 1992. Population
biology of the redlip blenny, Ophioblennius atlanticus macclurei
(Sylvester) in Barbados. Bull. Mar. Sci. 50: 186-204.
Lindquist, DG & RM Dillaman. 1986.
Trophic morphology of four western Atlantic blennies (Pisces:
Blenniidae). Copeia. 1986: 207-213.
Longley, WH & SF Hildebrand. 1941.
Systematic catalogue of the fishes of Tortugas, Florida with
observations on color and local distribution. Papers Tortugas
Lab. 34: 1-331.
Randall, JE. 1967. Food habits of reef
fishes of the West Indies. Stud. Trop. Ocean. Miami.
Robins, CR & GC Ray. 1986. A field
guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton
Mifflin Co. New York. USA. 354 pp.
Rooker, JR, Dokken, QR, Pattengill, CV
& GJ Holt. 1997. Fish assemblages on artificial and natural
reefs in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary,
USA. Coral Reefs. 16: 83-92.