Scuba Diving in the Caribbean: Fish Identification

by Carrie Thompson on April 23, 2008

by Carrie Thompson | April 23rd, 2008  

Scuba diving and snorkeling are one of the Caribbean’s main attractions, with crystal clear, warm water and reef systems teeming with wildlife. I’ve done my fair share of snorkeling in the Caribbean, Australia and Belize, but I have seldom known what exactly I was seeing. As far as I was concerned “I saw a real pretty blue fish, and some coral and a barracuda, I think.” Recreational divers and snorkelers often run in to such problems. Today I found the solution on YouTube. Following are video clips showing common types of fish, along with detailed descriptions. Watching these clips should more than prepare you to B.S. your way through look like a professional when discussing your next dive trip in the Caribbean. The commentary is provided by a staff member of the New England aquarium, not just some guy making things up.

Blue Chromis Fish

These little guys stand out in vivid blue next to coral and fans. Very beautiful!

Great Barracuda

Most people, even me, can identify a Great Barracuda. He doesn’t mention it, but I SWEAR these fish like to follow snorkelers. It’s happened to me.

Banded Butterfly Fish

These shallow water fish are beautiful black and white creatures, with all the grace of a butterfly.

Butter Hamlet Fish

These fish are found much more in Florida than in the Caribbean. As a territorial creature, you can go back to visit a Butter Hamlet at the same dive site again and again.

Blackbar Soldierfish

This member of the Squirrel Fish family is just plain fun to say. The distinctive black “bar” behind the head makes this fish easy to identify.

French Angelfish

This stunner of a fish has a colorful mix of yellow rim and black fins. Take your time and you can approach this sociable fish.

Blue Stripped Grunt Fish

The Blue Stripped Grunt Fish is a common schooling fish divers and snorkelers are likely to see in the Caribbean. They aren’t very sociable, but you may be able to get in the mix if you’re patient.

Fairy Basslet Fish

This little guy is found hiding around coral. You can spot them by the purple and gold coloring, which looks similar to an LSU jersey. If this inspires you to call the LSU football team a bunch of Fairies, please feel free to do so.

Horse-Eyed Jack Fish

Horse-Eyed Jack’s are deep water, schooling fish commonly seen by divers. They like to hang out around steep drop-offs.

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