Secretary Blenny vs. Punk/Christmas Tree Blenny vs. Spinyhead Blenny - Impt Note for REEF Surveyors


Hover your cursor over the above images to see the captions and correct IDs.

**An important note for all REEF surveyors from REEF Director of Science, Christy Pattengill-Semmens**

In 2014, with the release of the 4th edition of Reef Fish Identification, it is now known that what we were all calling Secretary Blenny are actually Spinyhead Blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa). The true Secretary Blenny (A. maria) is actually what we were all calling "Punk/Christmas Tree Blenny". 

Both species have variable markings of white on their face and head, including but not always, the white dash coming out of their eye and spots on their lips. The Spinyhead Blenny is the only one that can exhibit a completely white face.

Spinyhead Blenny have cirri that are all of relatively equal height.

The true Secretary Blenny has a red to orange to yellow patch on their head with thick cirri (making it look like it has an orange flattop), and long slender cirri above each eye that are often branched like a Christmas tree above each eye. Secretary Blenny are larger and stouter than Spinyhead Blenny.

Secretary Blenny are relatively rare, and are typically found in shallow (10-25 ft) areas of surgey water. Spinyhead Blenny are common throughout the range and found at a wide range of depths.

**Starting in June 2014, please report your sightings following these newly revised species descriptions. See below for images, as well as descriptions in the 4th edition of Reef Fish Identification on page 346-349.**

Feel free to post comments with your own photos of either species.

Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub