Reef-sand Blenny

Reef-sand Blenny, Ekemblemaria myersi

The Reef-sand Blenny, Ekemblemaria myersi, whose common Spanish name is tubícola de cejas, is a species in the Tube Blenny or Chaenopsidae Family, known collectively as trambollos tubícolas in Mexico. Globally, there are only three species in the genus Ekemblemaria, one of which is found in Mexican waters of the Pacific.

The Reef-sand Blennies have elongated bodies. They vary in color from tan to dark brown. They have 10 to 12 broad dark brown bars with narrower pale interspaces on their body, a large ocellated spot on their gill cover, and pale oblique lines on their dorsal fin with spots on the front half and narrow oblique lines on the back half. They have a marked dimorphism with females having clear margins on their pectoral and pelvic fins, a dorsal fin with a transparent anterior portion, a pair of unpigmented spots anterior to the pelvic fin insertion, and distinct bands on their chin, all of which are absent in males. Females are also larger and have smaller supraorbital cirri than males. Their head is short and blunt and their forehead is rough. They have one palm-like cirrus over their eyes and one row of teeth on each side of the roof of their mouth. Their anal fin has two spines and 24 to 27 rays; their caudal fin is rounded; their dorsal fin is unnotched with 19 to 21 spines and 19 to 21 rays; and their pelvic fins are shorter than their pectoral fins.

The Reef-sand Blennies are a coastal shallow water predatory species found in the tubes of certain worms within rocky outcrops in sandy and weedy areas at depths up to 15 feet. They reach a maximum length of 7.0 cm (2.8 inches). Reproduction is oviparous with females releasing eggs which are fertilized externally by males.  They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Reef-sand Blenny have a limited distribution being found from Santa Rosalia to Cabo San Lucas along the east coast of Baja and from Mazatlán south to Guatemala along the coast of the mainland.

The Reef-sand Blenny cannot be easily confused with any other species due to its unique markings and body shape.

Due to their size and rarity, the Reef-sand Blennies are of limited interest to most with the exception of underwater photographers.

Reef-sand Blenny, Ekemblemaria myersi, male. Fish caught off a dock in the old Mazatlán Marina, Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2015. Length: 7.0 cm (2.8 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Michael Verdirame, Toronto, Canada.