Key West Spotted Drum

At just seven inches in average length, the Spotted Drum fish captivates snorkelers with its stunning black and white stripes and unique polka dot tail and dorsal fin. When on a Key West snorkel, keep in mind that nighttime is the best time to chance upon this unusual fish because Spotted Drums like to hide among rocks and in coral reef caverns during the day. At night, the Drums emerge from their hiding places to hunt small invertebrate animals, such as crabs and shrimp. These nocturnal hunters received the name "Drum" in reference to the audible drumming sound made by their abdominal muscles beating against their air-filled swim bladders.

The younger the Spotted Drum, the narrower its body and the more prominent its fins and tail. The elegance of the juvenile fish is quite breathtaking as its black and white body ribbons its way through the blue waters. Older Drums have larger bodies in comparison with their dorsal and tail fins, but they are equally fancy and memorable fish to see while on a Key West snorkeling adventure.

Snorkelers are wise to be mindful of the Drum's skittish nature. A calm and reserved demeanor and slow movements while you are in the Drum's territory will allow you many more precious moments to take in their beauty.