Common name: Warthead Blenny
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: The species has an elongate body with a rounded blunt head that lacks spines, two bushy branched cirri over each eye, and three dark bars under the jaw (Robertson and Van Tassell 2015). Orange spots cover the body and are larger anteriorly (Robertson and Van Tassell 2015). The iris has wedge-shaped markings and a pair of ridges extends from between the eyes to the dorsal fin (Humann and Deloach 2002). Colors may be variable.
Distinguished from other similar appearing native blennies by a dark or clear ocellus on the foredorsal (males) or a dark flag on the upper foredorsal (females), wedge-shaped markings on the iris and, occasionally, a pale bar angled downward and posteriorly from the eye continuing across preoperculum and operculum. Often, though not always, exhibit two fleshy ridges extending from between eyes to foredorsal.
Size: up to 5.1 cm (Robertson and Van Tassell 2015)
Native Range: Along the coast of northeast Venezuela (Williams and Craig 2015).
One specimen was collected in Tampa Bay, Florida, on the northwest side of a small island just outside of Port Manatee in January 2017 (FSBC 30436). Additional individuals were seen in 2019 and 2020 on the south end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Manatee County, Florida. Eight adults were collected in Veracruz, Mexico in November 2019 (Argüelles-Jiménez et al. 2020). There is a record from Trinidad in February 2016 near Port of Spain.
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Protemblemaria punctata are found here.
Table last updated 2/27/2023
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: This species lives in empty mollusk shells, on reefs, and in mangroves (Robertson and Van Tassell 2015). This is the only blenny in the Chaenopsid family known to inhabit mangroves (Humann and Deloach 2002). They are found in up to 20 m depth and feed on benthic crustaceans, gastropods, bivalves, and zooplankton (Robertson and Van Tassell 2015).
Means of Introduction: Unknown, but possibly by hitch-hiking on towed oil/gas platforms or ships.
Status: Possibly established.
Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.
References: (click for full references)
Argüelles-Jiménez, J., M. Contreras-Juarez, and E. Palacio Pérez. 2020. Potential invasion of the Gulf of Mexico by Protemblemaria punctata
(Teleostei: Chaenopsidae), a cryptobenthic fish endemic to Venezuela. Bulletin of Marine Science https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2020.0014
Humann, P., and DeLoach, N. 2002. Reef fish identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Jacksonville, Florida.
Robertson, D.R., and Van Tassell, J. 2015. Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean: online information system. Version 1.0 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panamá. https://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/caribbean/en/thefishes/species/4038
Williams, J.T., and Craig, M.T. 2015. Protemblemaria punctata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T18374A67924325. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T18374A67924325.en. Downloaded on 19 May 2017.
Schofield, P.J., and Brown, M.E.
Revision Date: 2/8/2021
Schofield, P.J., and Brown, M.E., 2023, Protemblemaria punctata Cervigón, 1966: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=3162, Revision Date: 2/8/2021, Access Date: 3/26/2023
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.