Continued from Home Page

Get familiar..continued from home page

........animals look like plants, rocks,  the sea floor, other animals, or whatever their surroundings. Many fish can very quickly change their appearance. I've watched a Schoolmaster Snapper change from almost ghost white to an olive green mottled appearance in less than a few seconds. The Porgy's and Parrotfishes are also quick change artists but the best quick change artist is the Octopus!   While fish change their colors, other marine creatures disguise themselves by applying pieces of sponge, rock or grass.  Decorator and Sponge Crabs do this.

Other creatures have evolved body shapes and spots to trick a predator's eye.   The Four Eye butterfly fish, with his big "Eye" spot on his rear dorsal fin confuses the would be predator at to what direction his prey will take. The plant-like Sea Fans, Sea Plumes "grow" branches and limbs that look like plants, but are really thousands of tiny animals living in a colony.

Movement (or lack of it)

 is another trick marine life uses to avoid detection.  Many fish will lay perfectly still for as long as they think they are not detected. (Usually by how close you venture) They have a built-in sense of what a predator's "striking distance" is and as soon as you cross that invisible barrier, the game's over and the fish is gone in literally the blink of an eye.   So when snorkeling, go slowly. If you only look for things that are moving, you will miss 80% of what you could actually be seeing.


Many marine species hide during the day: often under things like over-hangs and boulders, inside the holes in coral reefs, amid the coral rocks and rubble and in the sea grasses. Look into and under and over these hiding places. 

Being in the right place at the right time

I've spent close to 900 hours in the water and there are some fish, creatures and corals I've only seen one time. Needless to say that in one afternoon's snorkeling trip you are not going to see everything in these galleries.  I like to go into the water late in the afternoon and stay in until almost sunset. As the dark of night approaches, the night feeders tend to start making their way out of their daytime hiding places. You will see more eels and crustaceans later in the day.  The same holds true for very early in the morning I should think, but not being a morning person, I can't say that for a fact, it just stands to reason. 

Another tip is to look for a place the Pelicans are diving for fish. You may find yourself swimming amid a school of a million baitfish with a gang of 15 Tarpon keeping you company and schools of Jacks or Snappers having a feeding frenzy.  Very cool stuff!