Types of Ocean Life You See While Snorkeling: Different Reef Fish and Where to Spot Them

The ocean covers about 70 percent of our planet, and it is home to millions of marine species. 70 percent of the earth is tough to cover. That is why whether you are a beginner or an experienced snorkeler, there are several places where you can witness enchanting underwater life. All you need is a snorkel, mask, and fins to experience the beauty of coral reefs and as well as the stunning creatures that live beneath the waves. One of the most exciting parts of snorkeling is seeing different vibrantly colored reef fish and swim with them. This is why in this article, we are going to name some of the most common reef fish that you can find at the best places to go and see them.

 Triggerfish – Also known as the Hawaiian triggerfish, This vibrantly colored reef fish is known to be Hawaii’s official fish. If you happen to go to a snorkel trip there, you will have the chance to see several different species of the triggerfish, such as the black triggerfish, or the bridled triggerfish in English, and the humuhumu lei also called as the lei triggerfish.

 Snapper – You will be able to see different varieties of snappers that live abundantly in Hawaii’s coral reefs when you go snorkeling there. The snapper varieties that you can see include the productive blue stripe snapper, grey snapper, and the squirrelfish snapper. Most of these snapper varieties are edible, in fact, you can find them in several local fish markets in Hawaii.

 Jack or Trevally –You will probably see these powerful and stunning predatory fish always hunt for prey in the reef. Jack or trevally is considered as the most prized reef fish in Hawaii by the local fishermen. Especially when they are just the right size. If you are going on a snorkeling trip in Hawaii, chances are you will get to see different types of jackfish. 

Falco Hawkfish – Hawkfishes are a cluster of coral reef fishes that likes resting and waiting on corals as they wait for their food. They want to eat small fish and shrimps. However, they are not very good swimmers, which is why their silly antics make them an enjoyable addition if you have a home aquarium. The Falco hawkfish are known for their vertical red stripes, which can also help with camouflage.

Shark – If you are brave enough to snorkel and see a shark, you might encounter these different types of sharks, such as the cookiecutter shark, sandbar shark, and as well as the blacktip reef shark while snorkeling. Other examples also include the scalloped hammerhead, whitetip reef shark, and the Tigershark.

 Eel – Basically, moray eels are not aggressive by nature, but once divers provoke them, they can be quite dangerous. On the other hand, one of the most common eels that you can see in Hawaii is the conger eels, which doesn’t have real teeth to speak of. 

 Copper-band Butterflyfish – The copper-band butterflyfish is a beautiful species. It has a large black spot that is located on the upper backside of its body, which looks like an eye, and it helps the copper-band butterflyfish to confuse predators. This reef fish uses its long snout to pick out and eat on tube worms and coral polyps. This is also a popular aquarium species; however, it is sensitive and challenging to keep alive.

Scorpionfish – Hawaii is known to have about 25 out of 350 known species of scorpionfish in the world. This kind of reef fish can be easily seen because it has long flowing fins as well as a colorful appearance. However, do not be fooled by its look because its spines are considered to be extremely toxic. On the other hand, a type of scorpionfish known as the devil scorpionfish is hailed to be a master of disguise because it has fins that look like a rock. As we mentioned, the spine of the scorpionfish is highly toxic. If it stings you, chances are it will cause throbbing and sharp pain. This is why if you see a scorpionfish in the water. At the same time, you’re snorkeling in Hawaii, you should definitely stay away from them and admire them from a distance.

 Parrotfish – The parrotfish might be the most colorful reef fish that you will see in Hawaii. This type of reef fish lives up to its name because they have a set of sharp teeth that looks like a parrot’s beak. They use their strong teeth to eat polyps and algae off the reef. Parrotfish are also popular with locals because they are edible. You can serve them steamed or baked. Which is why you will often see a restaurant in Hawaii that serves parrotfish.

 Squirrelfish  – Also known as the Hawaiian squirrelfish, are nocturnal feeders, and one of its most recognizable features is its big eyes. In order to see and hunt during the night time, squirrelfish absorbs the light that is coming from the moon and stars. If they see that is a predator is nearby, the squirrelfish will make grunting sounds by grinding its teeth, which in turn will scare away any predators. Some say that the noise they make is similar to squirrel sounds.

 Regal Tang – Also known as a hippo tang, this reef fish is recognizable because of contrasting black and neon blue colors. Aside from that, they also have a bright yellow wedge. Regal tangs are algae eaters, and they can grow up to 10 inches in length.  

Best Snorkeling Spots to See Reef Fish

Great Barrier Reef, Australia – If you really want to see the beautiful and stunning marine life and vibrantly colored corals, then there’s no place better than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is considered to be the world’s most extensive reef system, and it has over 2,900 individual reefs along with coral cays that stretch up to 1,400 miles off the Queensland shoreline. The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than a thousand fish species and six other species of sea turtles.

Maui, Hawaii, United States – The abundant island of Maui holds unique lava rocks and coves, which makes this island for a one-of-a-kind experience for every tourist. You can either snorkel off the island’s beaches or go on a tour to see Maui’s famous reefs and come face-to-face rainbow fish, eagle rays, monk seals, coral formations, and sea turtles.

St. Kitts, The Caribbean – The island of St. Kitts is known for its picture to perfect beautiful beaches, virgin tropical forests, and warm weather all year round. When you go snorkeling here, you will be able to witness an abundance of sea life inhabits the waters, especially on the west side, south of the capital of Basseterre.

Los Cabos, Mexico – Los Cabos, is located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, is settled between the coastlines of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Here you can explore Cabo Pulmo, which is a protected National Marine Park that is hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to one of the three coral reefs that can be found in North America. Los Cabos is the perfect destination for snorkeling if you want to see some damselfish, parrotfish, angelfish, dolphins, whales, and even sharks.