This colorful parrotfish living amongst the reef in Belize, flashed me a giant smile, showing me some bright white teeth. They use these teeth to scrape algae off corals and rocks, thus preventing algae overgrowth in the reef. This harsh treatment on their teeth as they eat means that they grow continuously throughout their life. I must say that it is a totally different felling getting a toothy smile from a parrotfish compared to a toothy grin from a shark!
A gorgeous school of Blue Tang fish swimming through the corals around South Water Caye island in Belize. These fish swim across you in undulating waves, and it’s very soothing and relaxing to watch them. They mostly swim in a large school of fish, moving through the water as if they are a single large organism, all connected and communicating. They seem so peaceful, as if no predators exist in the world, and for those moments I wish that could be true for us all.
Would you even know you were looking at one of the worlds most venomous fish? Anyone would be grumpy with a face like this one. This is a stonefish and as you can imagine is easily stepped on by people due to the fact that it is not easily distinguished from its surroundings. The venom from this fish is extremely painful and can be lethal, so of course (like most venomous things) it lives in waters around Australia. If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by this fish, heat treatment of the site can be used to destroy the venom. For more severe cases antivenom is administered. The moral of this story is that when snorkeling do not pick up or touch anything….. even something as harmless looking as a stone can kill you.
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This beautiful Squirrelfish was spotted (with quite a few others) whilst recently snorkeling in Jamaica. These fish chose a home amongst the corals and rock crevices which they become very territorial about. They get incredibly defensive when someone infringes upon their space and will issue warnings by grunting and making other high pitched noises (which I obviously cannot hear underwater). For those of us who are hard of hearing, this fish also threateningly raised the spines along its back to let me know that I got too close. Once it realised I was a friend it went back to happily swimming laps around the coral and posing for some more friendly photos too. Because this fish stays close to its territory all the time it meant that I could find the exact same fish in the same location the next day. Click here for other underwater posts.
This gorgeous and very large clam was photographed while swimming off a beach on Fitzroy Island, Australia. This beautiful island is situated just off the coast of Queensland about a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns. It is surrounded by coral reef that is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, where you can see many different corals, clams, fish and even turtles. Clams are incredibly fascinating creatures especially in regards to their life cycle and reproductive habits. They are born male and remain so for the first few years of life and produce sperm to reproduce. Once mature they also develop ovaries and produce eggs making them hermaphrodites. To maintain genetic diversity, clams living in the same area will spawn at the same time. Clam spawning, along with many corals takes place when sea temperatures rise and the moon is at the correct phase. Once spawning has begun they simultaneously release reproductive pheromones telling other nearby clams to spawn. First they release sperm which gets moved away by the current (hopefully to meet another clams eggs), and then they release eggs (to hopefully meet another clams sperm). After fertilization takes place the baby clam passes through a mobile larval stage (which sadly many do not survive), before finally settling on a permanent home and growing into the beautiful, colorful clams that we see amongst the corals.
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This small coral structure looks like a beautiful underwater castle. It is a hard coral which is home to millions of teeny tiny individual polyps in a castle constructed out of calcium carbonate. Other likely residents within this castle are single-celled algae. The algae use energy from the sun to make sugars and fats which they share with the coral allowing it to grow faster. The coral animals also make waste which feeds the algae. Together they make a very large and happy family of teeny residents in a beautiful castle. They even have a blue Christmas tree worm as a pet in the yard!
I love snorkeling. Mostly because the ocean floor feels like a completely foreign world, with so many interesting landscapes and weird creatures to explore. Every reef I’ve been to is quite different and unique in its corals and wildlife. Even the same reef can look different every time you look at it, with new creatures every day. Sometimes I feel as though the creatures are watching me as much as I am watching them, looking at me like I’m out of place. Large schools of fish will cluster around you, or swim past you like a large shimmering wall, wondering what you are. They give you just enough space, so that you could not catch them if you are a predator. Smaller fish, which live in soft corals and anemones are very defensive about their little garden. They will face you, and even get a bit aggressive if you get too close. I give them plenty of space in the hope that they know I am just there to watch. Its a truly fascinating world, and I hope to see much more of it in future explorations.