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Red Sea "Rhinoceros" blenny

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This one is from the same general area (right side of Marsa Shagra bay) and again less than 2m depth. I have only seen it inside tube holes and it strongly reminds me of the Caribbean tube blennies in behavior and head shape. I haven't come across anything like it for the Red Sea or general Pacific area.

 

Bart

 

post-5225-0-46722500-1368301128_thumb.jpg

 

post-5225-0-46587900-1368301450_thumb.jpg

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Update,

 

After posting, I contacted Ben Victor, a blenny expert, and he forwarded the message to Jack Randall and Sergey Bogorodsky. The conclusion is that this fish remains a mystery and it may be a goby instead of a blenny. Since this is a one-off sighting it is hard to know if it is just some oddity or a distinct feature of some unknown species. If anyone interested in small fish travels to Marsa Shagra then please keep an eye out for them. I found them in the dead limestone coral blocks along the right-hand side of the Marsa in 1-2m of water.

 

Bart

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I thought I’d this photo to the discussion. Seems to be the same species. Also found in shallow water in the Red Sea. I have no further information on ID. Looks much more like a blenny than a goby to me.

 

post-713-0-06130500-1424946897_thumb.jpg

 

Alex

 

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The position inside the tube, the face shape and the colors are very close to a barnacle or tube blenny.

The main difference is the single cirri as most blennies have two cirri.

Maybe some kind of mutation?

Chris

Edited by ChrigelKarrer

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By chance, I was just talking about this fish today with Sergey Bogorodski, an expert in Red Sea fish who is keen on finding out more about this fish (they will release a new Red Sea fish diversity book which I hope will be as good as the Reef Fishes of the East Indies trifecta). I will let him know about this second sighting. Alex can you say anything more about the dive site. The one I found was in the Marsa Alam area, Marsa Shagra, in about 2m depth. Its tube hole was in a dead limestone block facing the sandy chute leading from the beach out through the reef. I will be back in the Red Sea this May and would love to see and study it better.

 

Bart

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Alex can you say anything more about the dive site. The one I found was in the Marsa Alam area, Marsa Shagra, in about 2m depth. Its tube hole was in a dead limestone block facing the sandy chute leading from the beach out through the reef. I will be back in the Red Sea this May and would love to see and study it better.

 

Bart

 

 

Hi Bart,

 

Of course. The one in my photo was at a very similar depth. At Gubal Island at the mouth of the Gulf of Suez in the Strait of Gubal. The little guy was also in a hole in a non-living coral rock, in a small lagoon between the fringing reef and the land.

If you know the barge dive site, you swim in shore and through a shallow cut in the reef to the lagoon. Ahead of you, after you arrive in the lagoon, there is a large branching hard coral, which I call the lemon tree because it is always filled with lemon gobies and surrounded by sand is a great place to photograph them. This rhino - unicorn blenny was on past the lemon tree on the inside edge of the lagoon.

 

Knew it was strange when I shot it (and actually borrowed a friend's SMC close up lens to shoot it), but then didn't think any more and went back to shooting more regular subjects.

 

Alex

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Thanks Alex.

 

This is almost certainly a new species and my gut feeling was also that it is a blenny rather than a goby. But the single horn/cirrus is very unusual for either family. To me, and also Chris, it in particular resembles Caribbean tube blennies. But according to fish base and the experts not a single member of the tube-blennies (Chaenopsidae family) is known from the Pacific. So if this ends up being such a blenny it will be a big surprise. I expect to be in either Safaga or Marsa Shagra in May and now have a good idea in what types of habitat to look for them.

 

Cheers, Bart

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Nice find Bart and good luck. It might become Blennius hazesii!

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As one who struggles to memorize names, I prefer descriptive nomenclature. But nothing will happen until someone catches a few of them for morphological and DNA analysis. I think that would involve using some kind of chemical sedative to get them out of their tubes. Not sure if I'm up for that and it would probably need special export paperwork. Better to find some areas where they can be reliably found and then leave it up to the scientists.

 

Bart

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This is almost certainly a new species and my gut feeling was also that it is a blenny rather than a goby. But the single horn/cirrus is very unusual for either family. To me, and also Chris, it in particular resembles Caribbean tube blennies. But according to fish base and the experts not a single member of the tube-blennies (Chaenopsidae family) is known from the Pacific. So if this ends up being such a blenny it will be a big surprise. I expect to be in either Safaga or Marsa Shagra in May and now have a good idea in what types of habitat to look for them.

 

Cheers, Bart

 

I agree that it looks very like a Chaenopsid tube blenny, but I can’t believe it is one, either. More likely a case of convergent evolution - if you are a blenny and you decide to live in a tube, you are going to end up looking a certain way! The mouth, in particular is very like a tube blenny, and not really like any Red Sea blennies I know.

I can’t see any way that a true Chaenopsid could be in the Red Sea.

 

Tube blennies (Chaenopsidae) are a New World species (found in Tropical Atlantic, Caribbean and warmer areas of the East Pacific). Here are a few for comparison. There is no doubt that there is plenty of resemblance in size and shape. Although all these have paired cirri between the eyes (and more over the rest of their heads). In fact I have never used the word cirrus before, because I have never seen an unpaired cirri!

 

Caribbean rough head tube blenny - which looks most similar

post-713-0-06438000-1425975055_thumb.jpg

 

Caribbean rough head tube blenny (golden type)

post-713-0-33475200-1425974936_thumb.jpg

 

East Pacific brown cheek blenny:

post-713-0-40691700-1425975110_thumb.jpg

 

East Pacific signal blenny:

post-713-0-65884100-1425975143_thumb.jpg

 

I agree this is most likely new species and it has gone undetected because of its unusual habitat preference. I showed my photo in a talk last week to 250 keen divers, most of whom dive in the Red Sea regularly, and nobody came up saying that they had seen it before.

My only other theory is that this is a juvenile of a larger blenny, but that does not account for the mouth looking so like a tube blenny.

I also don’t believe it can be an invasive species (there is a lot of shipping in the Red Sea) - because it does not look like anything else known from elsewhere.

 

So for a name Mimoblennius unicirrus! :nea:

 

Alex

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Due the high cargo ship traffic in the red sea a "immigration" of tube blenny's would be possible as a several red sea species migrated to the Mediterranean sea.
As they are (in this moment) only this two photos documenting the "Mimoblennius unicirrus" and the single cirrus is unique and a true mystery i personally believe

that it is a rather young or immigrated and mutated species as the red sea is one of the most documented seas in the world.
Anyway, only a professional analysis of a dead example max reveal his ancestors.

 

One question, did you noticed his behaviour to "jump" extremly fast out and in the tube? This is the normal behaviour of both species below!

 

Chris

 

Two (but not limited to) Tube or Barnacle blenny along the costaricean shore (not Cocos Island) are:

Bluntspine Blenny (Acanthemblemaria exilispinus)

MacroBarnacleBlenny2.jpg

 

Panamic Barnacle Blenny (Acanthemblemaria hancocki)

MacroRedEyeBarnacleBlenny.jpg

Edited by ChrigelKarrer

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I just returned from the Red Sea and included three days at Marsa Shagra to see if, four years later, I could still find this fish. I did and, looking a bit better, found about a dozen in the same area. On my first try I didn't find them and when I did I realized I had forgotten how small they are. You have to get close to the rocks and look for match-stick sized heads. What makes it easier is that they often breath very rapidly. Most only stick their head out of the worm hole and I did not see any of them come out to grab plankton particles. A Red Sea fish scientist is interested in describing this species and I may even be involved in the process, possibly including a field trip, which would be very exciting.

 

Front view

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Side view

post-5225-0-23973200-1436021954_thumb.jpg

 

Bart

 

 

Edited by Glasseye Snapper
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Sorry to jump onto an old post, but I actually caught 2 of these guys while doing some fish sampling in the central Red Sea. I have been searching and searching for what they could be, when I stumbled upon this post.

 

I was wondering if you ever found out any more information on them or what species they might be.

 

Here is a link to the pictures:

http://imgur.com/a/xLsPn

 

 

Thank you!

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Sorry to jump onto an old post, but I actually caught 2 of these guys while doing some fish sampling in the central Red Sea. I have been searching and searching for what they could be, when I stumbled upon this post.

 

I was wondering if you ever found out any more information on them or what species they might be.

 

Here is a link to the pictures:

http://imgur.com/a/xLsPn

 

 

Thank you!

 

Wow! I've been distracted with freshwater aquariums and breeding cichlids so hadn't checked wetpixel for a while. Boy am I glad I did tonight. I would love to know more about the location and habitat where you found them. Your images show two separate dorsal fins so it appears to be a goby after all. I would not be surprised if it is a brand new genus and wonder if you'd be willing to donate the specimens to science, perhaps that is why you caught them in the first place.

 

Bart

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Wow! I've been distracted with freshwater aquariums and breeding cichlids so hadn't checked wetpixel for a while. Boy am I glad I did tonight. I would love to know more about the location and habitat where you found them. Your images show two separate dorsal fins so it appears to be a goby after all. I would not be surprised if it is a brand new genus and wonder if you'd be willing to donate the specimens to science, perhaps that is why you caught them in the first place.

 

Bart

Bart,

 

Yes, it does appear to be a goby! I emailed Sergey Bogorodsky after finding this thread. He is in the process of describing this new species, so he asked if I would like to collaborate and collect some more. I am planning on going out in October to try and find some more of the little guys. Back in May, I found them in a coral rubble patch at around 15m depth near these coordinates (22° 13.6558 N, 38° 58.1853 E)

 

I am doing my MS thesis on microhabitat association of cryptobenthic gobies, so I was out collecting a whole bunch of them. I am definitely interesting in increasing the knowledge of goby biodiversity!

 

Emily

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Thanks Emily, that is great news. Definitely deeper than I and Alex found them and on the Saudi side of the Red Sea. I found mine near shore but I think Alex also found them on an outer reef. My problem has been that as a hobbyist I couldn't easyly get paperwork to catch and export fish so it is great that you can do this. There is also a new Oplopomops goby I found in a seagrass field in the Red Sea that Sergey would like to get specimens off. I can dig up an image just in case you've seen it. Or sometimes just knowing about it makes it harder to see and recognize.

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Here are two shots of the Oplopomops-like goby. Found at 4-6m depth on fine sand/silt with seagrass in Marsa Abu Dabbab (25.338 (lat)34.74 (lng)).

 

post-5225-0-02641300-1505953662_thumb.jpeg

 

post-5225-0-42501800-1505953696_thumb.jpeg

 

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I thought I'd just update this old threat with the announcement that the "rhinoceros blenny" turned out to be a new species, as well as a new genus, of goby that has just been scientifically described as Cerogobius petrophilus (horned goby). With Ceros referring to horned and petrophilus, "rock loving", referring to its habit of living in small worm holes in rocks.

They comment on it being the only goby with a single 'horn' on the mid snout and point of the similarities in behaviour and anatomy with blennies that occupy small worm holes in rocks.

 

Here is the citation but the paper is unfortunately not publicly available.

Zootaxa 4565 (2): 171–189. March 8, 2019
Cerogobius petrophilus (Perciformes: Gobiidae), a new gobiid genus and species from the Red Sea
MARCELO KOVAČIĆ, SERGEY V. BOGORODSKY, EMILY M. TROYER, LUKE TORNABENE

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Bart, Thanks for posting the update. If anyone is interested in reading the paper, I can send them a copy. Just message me here.

 

Emily

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