discover the
marine life
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Discover the marine life

Become a certified scuba diver and discover the fantastic marine world


Most divers are attracted to diving because of the marine life. Encounters with everything from a simple sea slug to a majestic manta ray create the memories of a lifetime. Over two-thirds of the planet is covered by water and relatively few people will ever bother to explore the wonders beneath the sea. Whether you are interested in small, hard-to-find exotic creatures or into big animal encounters – all divers find something that fuels their passion for diving. Begin your journey and find your passion.

Below is a sample of the kinds of marine life you might encounter on a dive.

A diver investigates a brilliantly colored sea fan - another variety of soft coral. These common Caribbean squid can be spotted swimming together in small schools during the day. It's like meeting aliens! Frogfish are anglerfish. They rely on camouflage to help catch their prey. They tend not to move around a lot, so any local guide should be able to lead you to a nearby frogfish should there be one. A diver swims past what looks like a city of pillar corals. Stony corals are the basic building blocks of most of the world's coral reefs. These stony structures are actually created by millions of tiny coral polyps such as these. While some fish may be shy, there are many kinds of fish that are curious enough about divers. If you enjoy seeing marine life, you'll love getting into the thick of it while diving. This bright orange formation is actually a sponge. The Caribbean is renowned for its colorful sponges. The flamingo tongue is one of many mollusks that show off its flamboyant colors. Crustaceans are another diver favorite to seek out. This harlequin shrimp is one of the stranger looking shrimp divers can find. Sea Horses may be difficult for untrained eyes to find. That's why it's helpful to dive with a local guide who will enhance your dive experience by guiding you to special creatures. This queen angelfish is one of the Caribbean's most colorful varieties. Stony corals serve as protection for many varieties of fish life. What are you waiting for? Find a dive center and begin your adventure! Orange cup corals can be found on coral reefs around the world. They typically feed at night - this is when you can see their show of color. While this snail may appear quite common, many of its relatives will blow your mind. Sea stars come in many sizes, shapes and colors and can be found in almost every ocean and climate around the world. Schools of snapper such as these are colorful additions to any reef. Some schools of jacks are so thick, they can literally block out the sun. Soft corals come in just about every color of the rainbow. They thrill divers with a kaleidoscope of color. Stony (or hard) corals come in many shapes and sizes. Divers must learn to hover above the coral, as to avoid damaging these delicate structures. Look closely at the back of a sea cucumber and you might just find this little guy - an emperor shrimp (about an inch long). Some fish, like this mandarin fish, are decorated in the most flamboyant colors imaginable. Butterflyfish are the fish-watcher's dream. They're colorful, are often found in pairs, are found in countless varieties and can be seen in most tropical oceans. Sharks and rays are among the ocean's most majestic of creatures. A manta ray such as this can grow to have a wingspan of 20 feet or more. Anemonefish are a fan favorite. They're easy to find in many tropical locations and they're fun to watch. These bigeye snapper are a brilliant red underwater. Divers can find octopi in most of the world's oceans. They are known for their intelligence. Encountering them is a highlight of any dive. Puffers can be found in most tropical environments. They make for great photo opportunities. While invertebrates like coral, mollusks and crustaceans are fun for divers to seek out, the fish life always seems to steal the show. This industrious hermit crab sticks anemones on its shell for camouflage and protection from predators. Divers can entertain themselves endlessly watching hermit crab antics. Here's another variety of nudibranch. These sea slugs are typically small - around 1 to 2 inches in length, but they provide big thrills for any diver with a camera and a closeup lens. This elegant porcelain crab lives within the protective arms of an anemone. Different varieties of crab are found in just about all of the world's oceans. This juvenile angelfish's coloration is very different from what it will look like as an adult. This is why a good marine life book is essential for interested divers. Actually a mollusk, not a fish as its name implies, the cuttlefish can change color rapidly. Nudibranchs are essentially the marine equivalent of a garden slug - with the exception of their incredible variety of colors and forms. There are many varieties of marine life that live in or around anemones. This little hawkfish hopes to find a scrap of food left behind by the anemone. Marine mammal encounters are among the most memorable of all. There are places divers can go for either wild or trained dolphin encounters. Besides observing individual fish, divers frequently encounter large schools. Immersing oneself in a school of fish, the diver may feel accepted as one of them!

Click here to check out more fish photos and ID tips for common species. Compliments of Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

For details about Lionfish and their non-native species invasion of the East Coast of the United States click here.

Want to learn even more? REEF offers free "Fishinars" (fish ID webinars) - click here to browse their extensive list of available sessions.