For those who travel to Playa del Carmen, exploring under the sea is a popular activity. Snorkeling and reef diving in the Caribbean enable you to see an abundance of sea life. The marine animals living in this area may amaze you with their bright colors and unusual physical characteristics.
From sharks to sponges to sea worms, there are many exotic sea creatures living in the Caribbean that will make your Caribbean expedition memorable and exciting.
Banded Coral Shrimp
The banded coral shrimp lives in the reefs, typically at shallower depths. The animal gets its name from the bright red or purple stripes on its body and claws. These shrimp often live in pairs, working together to keep reefs clean. The banded coral shrimp does not have natural predators.
The blue tang fish has a bright blue color that makes it stand out brilliantly in the water. This fish can adjust the brightness of its color. It has an effective defense against its predators. Small spines on its back and tail deliver venomous wounds to other marine animals.
Several different dolphin species spend at least a part of each year in Caribbean waters. Dolphins typically live in shallow waters, which enables them to feed on the abundant fish that also live in these areas. Dolphins live together in small or large groups. People often enjoy watching dolphins as they swim together and jump out of the water.
Christmas Tree Worm
The Christmas tree worm gets its name for its shape, which resembles a Christmas tree with ornaments on it. This sea creature inhabits coral reefs in tropical waters. The appendages on the Christmas tree worm's body are gills, helping the animal breathe and catch food. Christmas tree worms feed primarily on plankton.
- White Christmas Tree Worm
- Christmas Tree Worm Facts
- Merry Christmas from the Christmas Tree Worm!
- Christmas-tree Worm Photos
The bright yellow tail of the yellowtail damselfish sets it apart from other species. As this fish darts in and out of the coral reefs, its tail contrasts brightly against the dark backdrop. This fish often has beautiful dots speckled along its upper body. The yellow damselfish is an omnivore, eating both algae and plankton.
- Territorial Habits of the Yellow-Tailed and the White-Tailed Damselfish (PDF)
- Damselfish Care Sheet (PDF)
- Yellowtail Damselfish
Green Moray Eel
The green moray eel appears to be green, although the animal is actually brown. The mucous that covers its body has a yellow tint, which gives it an overall green appearance. The green moray eel prefers to sit and wait for its food instead of hunting for it. The largest green moray eel recorded was 65 pounds.
Nurse sharks live near the ocean floor. Although typically not a threat to humans, nurse sharks can be intimidating due to their large size. Divers who accidentally step on a nurse shark on the ocean floor may receive a defensive bite from the animal. The nurse shark diet consists mainly of fish, squid, and shrimp.
- Nurse Shark Overview
- Family Ginglymostomidae Nurse Sharks (PDF)
- Common Sharks of Florida Common Sharks of Florida (PDF)
The parrotfish dwells in tropical reefs. Its vivid colors and unique shape make this species a fascinating study. The parrotfish eats algae it finds in the coral reefs. Scientists have discovered that the parrotfish can change its gender throughout its life.
Fortunate divers might catch a glimpse of the spotted drum hiding among the crevices of a coral reef. These shy fish have white stripes and spots on a dark background. Drum fish received their name due to the croaking sound they make. The spotted drum typically feeds at night, hunting for crabs and shrimp.
Spotted Eagle Ray
The spotted eagle ray has a dark body with white spots. The total length of this animal, including its tail, can reach nearly 29 feet. The spotted eagle ray can weigh as much as approximately 500 pounds. It lives in tropical waters, feeding on shrimp, crab, octopus, and small fish.
Spotted Moray Eel
The spotted moray eel is a common eel species with small, overlapping spots. The spots can be brown, purple, or even black. Divers swimming along a coral reef might catch a glimpse of a spotted moral eel peeking out from a hole in the reef. The eels typically feed during the day on fish and crustaceans.
The squirrelfish got its name due to its eyes, which resemble squirrel eyes. Squirrelfish live in both shallow and deep waters. They typically feed during the night, scouring the bottom of the ocean to find prey. During the day, squirrelfish hide to avoid predators.
- SquirrelFish Overview
- Environmental Preferences of Squirrelfish (Holocentrus) in the Belizean Coral Reef
- Longspine Squirrelfish
Tube sponges attach themselves to coral reefs and remain stationary. They can grow to lengths of more than three feet. Invertebrates and small fish typically live inside the tube sponge. To feed, tube sponges filter water and trap food particles. Wastewater products then move out of the tube sponge through the opening at the top.
- Population Structure in The Brown Tube Sponge (agelas Conifera) in The Florida Reef Tract And Caribbean (PDF)
- Yellow Tube Sponge
- Picture Guide to Some Common Sponges (PDF)
The vase sponge gets its name from its trumpet vase shape. Vase sponges vary in color; pink, blue, and purple are common hues. These sponges attach themselves to the walls of coral reefs. A vase sponge may grow to be three feet high and two feet wide.
Explore Caribbean marine life from these popular resorts