When we think of the fish of the Indian River Lagoon, we might think of large game fish like snook or spotted seatrout, or perhaps we envision mullet jumping at the water’s surface. The lagoon, however, is home to many more, less often seen fish, like this blenny. Many of these overlooked fish can be described as “cryptobenthic,” meaning that these fish hide in crevices or are well camouflaged (crypto) and live on the bottom (benthic).
Blennies are a large, diverse group of fish that make up the order Blenniiformes. These fish are generally small, benthic animals that have relatively large eyes and mouths. Blennies also tend to be solitary. They are not social animals and will not be found in aggregations.
Within the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding waters, you can find over twenty species of blennies! Although they may go unseen, blennies play an important role in the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem. Blennies have varied diets, which range from grazing on algae to munching on plankton or benthic invertebrates, and they are likely a valuable food source for other, larger, lagoon creatures.