Crystal Charters Guide to Coral Reef Critters
As snorkeling is one of our most requested stops on our boat charters we have put together a list of critters visitors are likely to spot on a visit to one of Grand Cayman’s beautiful Coral Reefs with Crystal Charters. These are all animals spotted by guests and staff alike!
Personally I think these fish are the prettiest on the reef, it is easy to see why they are called Angelfish. There are many types of Angelfish and as with most fish juveniles differ vastly in colour from their adult counterparts. Juvenile French Angelfish are very easy to spot with their black bodies and yellow stripes.
These are the fish everyone spots because of their rainbow colours and beak like mouth. Parrotfish play an important ecological role, you might see them munching on the coral, they crunch up the rocky exoskeleton to get to the (apparently) tasty algae inside the coral. The Parrotfish then poops out the degraded coral as… sand! You don’t get beautiful sandy beaches like Seven Mile Beach without a bit of a catch!
The kids (and adults) might recognize this fish as the cousin of Dory from Finding Nemo. Whilst Dory is from the Pacific Ocean and also a Blue Tang, ours in the Caribbean do look a little different. You can normally see them cruising around the reef in big groups, sometimes 30 individuals strong! They play an important role keeping the algae off our coral (and boats!).
These fish will be the first to greet you as you slip into the sparkling Caribbean Sea, I almost guarantee it! Easily distinguishable with their small silver bodies and five dark stripes that give them their name of rank they tend to stick around the bottom of boats and above the coral. You may even spot some tiny babies when taking a dip off Seven Mile Beach, they are perfect miniatures of the adults who lay eggs in purple patches in the sand.
I can also guarantee where you see the Sergeant Majors you will see a few Chubs hanging around too! I like to think these football shaped fish got their name from the way they look head on… as if they are giving you a chubby smile! They are inquisitive and friendly fish.
Also known as Garfish, we have a couple of very large Needlefish who enjoy hanging out on the sandbar with the stingrays and have benefited from taking scraps meant for the rays. Any where else and you will almost certainly see smaller ones, they are often mistaken for small Barracuda as they tend to hang about at the surface of the water but they do not look intimidating at all. Needlefish are iridescent with beautiful scales and there are always a few small ones by Kaibo dock.
Another visitor to the sandbar, we often see a pair of these interesting looking fish with the stingrays and recently there has been a third following so I like to think its a little family of Trunkfish. You cannot mistake these fish once you spot the honeycomb pattern on their sides, often a little skittish but the sandbar family will eat any leftover scraps from feeding the rays if you are patient enough!
One of my favourite fish to spot at the reef, and I always see at least one. I think it is the awkwardness of the Trumpetfish that appeals the most, they always hang almost upside down in the water column and try to blend in with the sea rods (Coral) but you can always still spot them. A stranger looking fish, this one should be easy to spot, even with its subtle blending in technique.
We don’t always see one of these but they are very recognizable fish and a joy to see, it is very rare to see one ‘blow up’ but they can get to quite a large size.
Green Moray Eel
It just so happens that we have a resident Moray Eel at Rum Point Reef and she will come out for visitors if in a good mood. Did you know that Moray Eels need to open their mouth to breathe? They do not mean to look intimidating by showing off their teeth but are making sure water gets pumped through their gills.
If you spend a bit of time looking under ledges and inside nooks and crannies you might come across the Caribbean Spiny Lobster, these guys have no claws and cannot be fished here in Grand Cayman until Lobster season comes around.
How many of these critters will you spot with your Crystal Charters boat excursion in Grand Cayman’s Caribbean Sea?