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Blog Pick of the Month – January 2011

The winner for the month of January is Kelsey Abbott who blogs at Mauka to Makai for the post, “Leapin’ Blennies“.

On a quest for information about these extreme mucous fish, Kelsey stumbled on some rather interesting facts:

My disappointment in the saber-toothed blenny left me searching for a cooler blenny—a mucus fish that could walk or talk or…leap. Meet the Pacific leaping blenny. These fish begin their lives in the ocean as planktonic larvae and then move to the supratidal zone, which is the rocky, splashy section of land above the high tide line. That’s right, these fish live on land.

Obviously, any normal fish living on land would be totally screwed. First, there’s the issue of breathing. Normal fish use gills to extract oxygen from the water. That same process would work just fine in air if it weren’t for the fragility of the lamellae (the part of the gills responsible for gas exchange). Out of the water, a fish’s lamellae will collapse, rendering gas exchange—and therefore breathing—impossible. To thwart suffocation, Pacific leaping blennies don’t breathe through their gills when they’re on land. Instead, they take oxygen in through their skin.

We selected Kelsey’s post because it’s a fantastic multimedia journey, citing examples of how fish adapt to being out of water. As always, Kelsey and the study’s authors will receive complimentary PLoS t-shirts.


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