Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Juliana M. Harding


Temperate oyster reef blennies use articulated oyster shells as nest sites in warmer months during breeding season but little is known about their site fidelity during non-breeding season. Unlike coral reef blennies that occupy territories year-round, rocky intertidal temperate blenny species display temporal territories and seasonally migrate into breeding shelters. Striped blenny (Chasmodes bosquianus) shelter use was described from November 2019 through March 2020 at Oyster Landing, North Inlet estuary, SC to quantify the proportion of daylight hours when fish were in residence and describe potential relationships between shelter occupancy and neighboring fishes. Replicate PVC shelters were monitored during daylight hours using underwater video cameras. The resulting digital video was examined frame by frame to quantify occupancy and fish behavior. Video analysis found that nest shelters were occupied more than half of daylight hours from November 2019 to March 2020 and that 78.7% of blenny individuals (n=381 fishes) observed were striped blennies. Residency times had positive relationships with average weekly temperatures and salinities each month, with January being the month with significantly lower residency time. Blennies preferred the smallest available shelter diameter (1.91 cm) when on the nest site, with or without neighboring fish. When a fish was in residence, there was at least one other fish present 41% of the time. Blennies preferred to occupy the middle pipe when the nest site was completely vacant, demonstrating a preference to choose residences next to open shelters versus open space. Striped blennies do not appear to use temporal territories; nest shelters were used from November 2019 to March 2020, a winter when average weekly water temperatures remained above 12-13°C. Documenting estuarine blenny daily nest shelters use for months is novel since diel nest site use patterns and blenny movements outside of low tide periods have been previously undescribed. The findings better describe striped blenny behavior and shelter use outside of breeding season and warrant further investigation to document site fidelity and shelter use of their activities during breeding season.

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