Key West Blue Tang

Blue Tang

Snorkeling in Key West can be fascinating as you watch the amazing fish and how they react to their surroundings.

One fish that is truly outstanding is the Blue Tang because its vibrant "electric" royal blue color makes it highly visible. This made it a perfect addition to the popular Pixar movie, "Finding Nemo", with a Blue Tang "Dory" voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. That film was re-released in 3D on September 14, 2012, and on Blu-ray on December 4, 2012. A sequel,"Finding Dory", is now in development with a proposed release date of June 17, 2016.

Additionally, the Blue Tang has a yellow tail and a black design of narrow dark lines covering the length of the body. Beware of the venomous spines that cover the back and the tail. If caught by an enemy, these spines are unfolded, and the fish will thrash violently, causing deep and painful wounds.

Adults average 12 inches in length and live singly, in pairs, or in groups as large as 10 or 12. Occasionally, they form even larger groups on reefs, and that is good for the health of the reefs because the fish use their sharp teeth to rip their favorite food, algae, from the coral. That prevents the algae from overgrowing and perhaps suffocating the coral. The Blue Tang is omnivorous, which means it eats both plants and animals. Younger tangs feed mostly on plankton, but their diet will change as they age.

When you next plan Key West snorkeling, be sure to be on the lookout for the amazing Blue Tang! One of more than 70 species of surgeonfish, the Blue Tang lives in coastal waters from New York to Brazil and as far east as Ascension Island.