Oh! Those Sweet Red Lips!

Redlip-Blenny-Cover

A Marine Life Series Column about redlip blennies and how the mating process works

I want to spend more time watching redlip blennies.  They mate beginning at first light in two week cycles that start ten days before the full moon.  The mating sessions last about three hours each morning, and males generally have female visitors every day.  Sometimes the same females come back, but usually there are different mixes among males and females.  Females spawn every other day with up to five different males during the two week session.

Male redlip blennies are good dads.  They maintain the nests, and even secrete an antimicrobial mucus that helps keep the eggs healthy until they hatch.  Redlip dads have anal glands that are part of the attraction for the females.  In a recent study in the Adriatic Sea, females sought out males with larger glands - typically older larger males.  According to the study, “The finding that females prefer males exhibiting larger glands, capable of producing more secretion, provides the first indication of possible female choice for the direct benefit of male antibacterial protection.”

Another study shows that males will also take over an abandoned nest, provide care and attract females to lay additional eggs.  So, if the guy next door gets eaten, the neighbor is capable of snatching the new territory and keeping the nest clean and bacteria-free, enhancing the survival rate for that nest.

About the author

Tim Grollimund

Tim is based in Key Largo, Florida. He wrote the scuba diving column for the local newspaper, The Reporter, for over three years, and also served as a Working Group member and Alternate Representative on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. His ebooks are all based on his newspaper columns. Each ebook has a collection of underwater images shot by Tim. The ebooks cover a wide range of marine life species and ocean conservation topics.

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