Key West Snorkeling Reef Fish
See Amazing Coral Fish while Key West Snorkeling
Are you looking for an exciting adventure? Key West snorkeling is a relaxing, fun, way to leave behind the hectic day-to-day grind and plunge into a different kind of world. Imagine a place uninhibited by ringing phones, traffic lights, honking horns, and the all the other daily stresses and distractions. Stop for a moment to feel the crystal-clear water all around as you encounter stunning, incredible creatures in their nature habitat, unaware of the world just above. Enjoy the beautiful coral reef below the blue waters that hold hundreds of varieties of marine wildlife as well as different beautiful species of coral fish.
Today, let's talk about some of the fish you might encounter such as the Butterflyfish species. The Spotfin Butterflyfish has a flat body, with a black line across each eye in which to confuse predators, and a dark mark on the tail. The Four-eyed Butterflyfish has markings that resemble an extra set of eyes, whereas the Banded Butterflyfish has dark bands that run vertically across the body. Watch closely as each of these different types of the same species dart around, sometimes stopping suddenly, using sharp hairlike teeth to eat small organisms, hidden just below the small cracks and cervices of the rich coral growth. These amazing creatures can even swim backwards.
Another fish to look for is the Hogfish. The hogfish has a large horizontally shaped body with a long nose that looks like a snout. This andlsquo;snout' is used for grunting and rooting around for buried crustaceans, which is where their name, andlsquo;hogfish' was derived. The males have a black spot behind the pectoral fins, not seen on the females. This fish can weigh up to twenty-two pounds and live for as long 11 years. The Spanish Hogfish can also be seen swimming around all during the day just above the coral, sometimes diving down to snoop into crevices. The Spanish Hogfish will use their small protruding teeth and pharyngeal jaws to feast on algae, crabs, worms, snails, shrimps, and eggs, but their favorite meal is hog snapper. Once night falls, these remarkable fish will dive below the sand or between crevasses to sleep.
While some fish turn in for the night, others like the Spotted Drum can be seen feeding in the dark. The Spotted Drum, so named for drumming noise made by beating its abdominal muscles against the swim bladder, feed on crabs, shrimp, and worms. Also up eating at night are the slow-moving, big eyed, Porcupinefish. These fish can grow up to a foot and half long and have spines covering its body that usually lay flat, unless threatened. If in jeopardy, the Porcupinefish, will fill itself up with water and point the spines outwards to scare off any predators. Oh, and watch your fingers, because their plated mouth structure they use for crushing hard shelled invertebrates can be very painful. French Grunts are another type of fish up feeding at night. These fish with stripes running both lengthwise and diagonally across the body and have dark tails and fins. The French Grunt likes to grind its teeth together, then use its air bladder, to make the sound of the teeth grinding louder. This sound is similar to a grunting noise, hence, its name.
Take extra care to notice Trumpetfish. These fish like to hang vertically and motionless beside the sea fans and tall coral, waiting for yellowtail snapper. Because of their broad range in color from brown, reddish, bluish, to bright yellow, and their long thin bodies, they can easily blend in with the reef, making them harder to see. Their trumpet shaped mouths appear small at first, but can actually open to up to many times their body size.
Another fish that can hover motionless are both the French and Queen Angelfish. These angelfish are the largest in their species and both have an angel shaped outline if turned upside down. The French Angelfish have a gray to black body with yellow stripes down the sides with a touch of yellow on the scales. The Queen Angelfish is blue-green with a yellow outline on its scales as well. More amazing fish you definitely do not want to miss are the Smooth Trunkfish and the Blue Tang. The Smooth Trunkfish are angular in shape and slow-moving; these fish usually swim alone or in small groups. They have white dots and puckered lips which they use to blow water into the sand to look for food. There bodies are covered in a toxic mucus which they release when stressed. The Blue Tang is small and blue to dark purple, with a triangular shaped body, having a small, sharp yellow spike that attaches the tail to the body. This spike can be bent outwards to ward off predators. The area is so sharp, the Blue Tang are included in the surgeonfish species. Care should be taken around them because some are venomous.
Found singly on the costal reefs around slopes and drop-offs are the Scrawled File Fish. The largest kind of filefish, these fish eat invertebrates and algae, and can change color and pattern to match the environment around them. The Sergeant Major Fish, named after its brightly striped sides that resemble the distinguishing mark of a military sergeant major, can also be found among the outer slopes feeding. Another interesting scrawl fish, The Scrawled Cowfish is yellow, with a pattern of bluish colored markings that cover the body. Horn looking protrusions on each side their of the head just above the eyes has earned them the andlsquo;cowfish' name. Although they can grow up to a foot and a half, they are usually docile and unless scared. The Peacock Flounder is another wonderful fish found among the coral reefs. The Peacock Flounder can change color in as fast as eight seconds and when in danger, easily camouflage itself in sand. When driven into hiding, The Peacock Flounder can use its eyes like periscopes up through the sand to look all the way around (180 degrees) for danger. Because of its usual trait of swimming on its side, this fish is a must see when Key West Snorkeling.
The Spotlight Parrotfish can also change colors from dark with white and can change its spots from hues of blue to green. These fish are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominant male. Their teeth are fused into powerful beaks and used for grabbing filamentous algae from dead coral. These fish will often sleep in slimy sediment bubbles to keep predators away. The Midnight Parrotfish also has teeth like the Spotlight Parrotfish, but can be quite a bit larger, some growing up to three feet long. The Midnight Parrotfish are some of the most common fish around the coral reef and are almost entirely dark blue in color. There is also the Redband Parrotfish, which changes many colors throughout its life, but ends up with a reddish outline around its body in adulthood. If you are any where near the parrotfish while they are feeding, you should be able to hear the scrapping noise made by their teeth against the coral. And lastly, the Beaugregory, generally dark blue to brown in color, with yellow flanks and a large black eye surrounded by a blue ring, can be found snacking on algae at the bottom of the flat reef areas, and up close to the dead coral around the rocky rubble.
As you can see, there are all types of magnificent fish just waiting to be explored. The true beauty of these creatures cannot be explained in these few words, but must be witnessed up close and personal to be truly appreciated. A Key West Snorkel can take you into an astonishing, vibrant, and beautiful world. Observe the gorgeous colors and habits of these fish and come away with an experience of a lifetime. Plan to visit today!