Blennidae in British Seas

Shorewatch Biological Recording Information Page
Common Blenny
Lipophrys pholis
Photograph by Andy Horton
The Blenny is widespread and common on rocky shores throughout the length of the British Isles, but its distribution does not extend much further afield, although it is found on all French shores. The Blenny is not found in the Mediterranean Sea. This small fish reaches a length of 165 mm and rests on rocks out of the water when the tide is out. Juvenile fish can be very common in the pools. The young fish feed on acorn barnacles.

The Common Blenny is also called the Smooth Blenny because it lacks the lappets or fringe on the forehead present in most of this family.

Tompot Blenny

Parablennius gattorugine
 Photograph by Ron Barrett
The Tompot Blenny lives below the low tide mark and is only occasionally found on the shore. This is the blenny often seen by divers. It is an very aggressive small fish that reaches a length of 30 cm. It feeds on all invertebrate animals especially sea anemones.

This fish is found off the south and west coasts of Britain and in seas as far south as the Mediterranean.

Another blenny species Parablennius ruber has been recorded in British seas. This new blenny is very similar to the Tompot Blenny and specimens may have been overlooked before.

Parablennius ruber (Photograph by Robert Patzner)
The Portuguese Blenny
has been recorded from the western coasts of the British Isles, including Ireland, and may have been mistaken for the Tompot Blenny in the past.
BMLSS Blennies
 Portuguese Blenny
Parablennius ruber

 Fishbase Portfolio by Robert Patzner

There have been Scottish records as well of Parablennius ruber, not on the NBN Gateway grid.

Please send in any reports and photlographs of this fish

(Left) Parablennius gattorugine     Coryphoblennius galerita (Right)

Photographs by Ron Barrett
The lappets are different on these two species above. Montagu's Blenny, Coryphoblennius galerita, (Right) is found between the tides during the summer on a few shores in the south-west of Britain. This southern species has blue spots over its body.

Montagu's Blenny
Coryphoblennius galerita

Newquay Headland, Cornwall (T R Daguerre 2015)

"Clearly able to see the fringed flap between the eyes on this individual and the blue spot patterning, restricted to the south west in British seas, this fish is a specialist living on the intertidal zone in areas where Acorn Barnacles, its main food source, have taken hold."

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Index to Marine Life Videos

P.ruber?P.pilicornis?P. gattorugine

Butterfly Blenny

B. ocellaris

Photograph by Gianni Neto

The rarest of the four British Blennidae is the Butterfly Blenny, Blennius ocellaris, which is found in deep water and never on the shore, although there are unconfirmed reports of specimens found intertidally on the Isle of Man coast. There is a photograph of this fish in the Plymouth Aquarium Guide by Geoff Potts, 1983. ISBN 0 903241 05 6.

24 May 2012
This blenny was spotted at a depth of 12 metres at Eastern Kings, Plymouth. Its body was narrow, not deep like the Tompot Blenny, Parablennius gattorugine, about 150mm long, has head tentacles, as you can see, but lacks noticeable dark face markings.


Report & Photographs by Martin Palmer

It is certainly a Parablennius species and it looks a bit like the Portuguese Blenny Parablennius ruberThe head tentacle splay is not so impressive as seen in the image of this fish above.This is the Variegated Blenny Parablennius pilicornis. It is out of the known range of the latter blenny. It has been seen before at Plymouth on the same dive site

Comments by Andy Horton

27 August 2011
A Peacock Blenny, Salaria pavo (Risso, 1810), was seen on the Brittany coast, northern France: "It was found on the shore in the Golfe du Morbihan (a large natural harbour) in south Brittany. They were the commonest fish on the shore, under rocks from mid-shore down."

Peacock Blenny
Report and Photograph by David Wilson on the Porcupine MNHS Facebook page.

The Peacock Blenny, Salaria pavo has recently has been found in considerable numbers in the Morbihan and near Concarneau, more towards the western tip of Brittany.

Scientific Report
This the most northerly occurrence of this Mediterranean blenny recorded.
Striped Blenny (Photograph by Dawn Watson)

24 November 2007
We saw a Striped Blenny, Parablennius rouxi, (wrong ID, corrected) off Plymouth. We dived at 50° 17.363N and 004°  00.187W out of Fort Bovisand. It was a flat sandy bottom with low (1 metre) rocky ridges covered in mixed animal turf at between 22 metres and 24 metres in depth. There were loads of sponge species and quite a few pink seafans and Imperial Anemones, Aureliania heterocer.
The ID is wrong It is the Variegated Blenny Parablennius pilicornis.

This blenny is a Mediterranean species and this is the first (?) record off the British coast.

Report and Photograph by Rob & Dawn Watson with Sally Sharrock

Differences between Blennies & Gobies
British Gobiidae
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Fishbase World Blenniidae List
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