To learn more and find out how to join the project click here.
Fish #166 Yarrell's Blenny Chirolophis ascanii ~ Jackie Mills
Pen and wash 20 x 30 cm
Chirolophis ascanni, or Yarrell's Blenny, is in the Stichaeidae family and is usually found on the sea bed at depths of between 20 metres to 200 meters. It hides among rocks or weed. This blenny has very occasionally been seen in rock pools, however this is more than likely caused by being washed into them by rough seas. It has a stout, elongated body with a single, spiny, dorsal fin which runs continuously down the back. There is also a pectoral fin, an anal fin and a small round caudal fin. Colouration can vary, but is based on pinks and browns, which can extend from bright red to dark brown to tan depending on the location. There is always dark patches and bars. Yarrell's Blenny is recognizable because of the blunt head, frog-like mouth and banded eyes which have large, fringed, tentacles above them. The colour of these tentacles can vary from bright yellow to pinky cream. The eye band extends down to a stripe down each cheek.
Yarrell's Blenny is found more frequently found along the Norwegian coastline, however it lives in lesser numbers in the UK, primarily in groups along Scottish and Irish coasts, and in the Orkneys, Shetland and Faroe islands. The blenny feeds on algae and small creatures (filamentous microalgae, foraminiferans, detritus, fish eggs, detritus, sand, minute crustaceans, small snails).
The conservation status of this blenny is unknown as sightings have been rare since it was first identified.
Yarrell's Blenny is named after the Victorian naturalist William Yarrell who first identified it from samples caught in Lock Broome and Berwick Bay. It is a little fish with a big character, hiding in rocks and through family breeding tailoring the colours to the location to help with camouflage on the sea bed. When it appears it's masked and crowned! It looks as if it's tied a Zorro mask around its head. Is the crown, those bright yellow/gold tentacles, for enticing a mate, food, deterring predators or all three? In keeping with the mask this is a fish with an air of mystery. Depending on which reference work you read you can find it around the British coast, you can't find it at all, seen rarely, mostly Scotland and Ireland, definitely of Scandinavian origin (it's a Viking!). There has been the odd sighting as far as Cornwall, but I suspect it was likely to have been on holiday. It eats everything and nothing. No-one can quantify (even generally) what the population of this species is. Somehow I think that so little is known about it is perfect. Small, masked, mysterious! How can you not be intrigued?
After careers in the military and local government I decided to concentrate on the things that have been a consistent thread throughout and shape me into who I am, primarily learning, art and helping young persons. I'm constantly studying the inter-relationships of shapes and colours found in landscapes, nature, architecture, still life and the human body. I began my exploration some years ago using watercolour, and through time have included other mediums, such as intaglio printing, textures and base material. I mix and match to create an image or object which conveys what I am trying to express.
Fish #166 Yarrell's Blenny Chirolophis ascanii ~ Chris Rolph
Oil on board 60 x 60 cm
The blenny is a fish from my childhood: the dark flitting shadow caught by the corner of your eye, seldom trapped in a net and transferred to a plastic bucket, before being released to its rockpool again. But blenny is used as a generic term, and I've since found that Yarrell's blenny is even more elusive than its intertidal cousins, choosing to live at depths of 20m or more and therefore rarely found in coastal rockpools.
I based my painting on a number of photographs; I wanted to capture its beady eye, downturned mouth, and of course its antler-like tentacles. Like the blennies I've caught on a crabline it has tiny razor-sharp teeth which you can see peeping behind its lips, and the dorsal fin runs the length of its long dappled body. Though this fish will fit comfortably in the palm of your hand I've exaggerated its size to emphasise the features of its face.
Yarrell's blenny is named after the publisher and naturalist William Yarrell (1784-1856), a colleague of Charles Darwin, with whom he helped to found the Zoological Society of London. His eponymous fish can be found all around the UK, where it hides among weedy rocks and shelters in crevices. Each fish's patterns are thought to be unique, like a fingerprint, and it can rest on its front fins on the sea bottom, where it feeds on tiny invertebrates.
Previous Fish Next Fish
Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is a not-for profit organisation, registered at Companies House. Company Number 10934941