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New England College  

Tropical Marine Biology

Fall 2011

Belize Coral Reef Species identification Page

 

This page contains information about species we are likely to encounter during our snorkeling trips to the barrier coral reef off the coast of Belize in January 2012.

Click on any active link to jump to the information section about that organism.

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are © 2011 Eric J. Simon, All Rights Reserved.

 

Week #1: Large vertebrates

1.      Southern stingray

2.      Horseshoe ray

3.      Spotted eagle ray

4.      Yellow spotted stingray

5.      Nurse shark

6.      Green moray eel

7.      Barracuda

8.      Loggerhead turtle

9.      Green sea turtle

10.  Hawksbill turtle

 

Week #2: Invertebrates I (sponges, cnidarians, and molluscs)

11.  Branching vase sponge

12.  Elkhorn coral

13.  Staghorn coral

14.  Purple sea fan

15.  Brain coral

16.  Giant anemone

17.  Queen conch

18.  Flamingo tongue

19.  Spotted seahare

20.  Caribbean reef squid

 

Week #3: Invertebrates II (annelids, arthropods, and echinoderms)

21.  Christmas tree worm

22.  Caribbean spiny lobster

23.  Spanish lobster

24.  Spiny brittle star

25.  Long-spined urchin

26.  Variegated urchin

27.  West Indian sea egg

28.  Slate-pencil urchin

29.  Sand dollar

30.  Donkey dung sea cucumber

 

Week #4: Fish

31.  Gray angelfish

32.  Queen angelfish

33.  Ballyhoo

34.  Yellowtail damselfish

35.  Peacock flounder

36.  Yellow goatfish

37.  Black grouper

38.  Nassau grouper

39.  Bluestriped grunt

40.  French grunt

 

Week #5: Fish

41.  Hogfish

42.  Horse-eye jack

43.  Princess parrotfish

44.  Queen parrotfish

45.  Stoplight parrotfish

46.  Porcupine fish

47.  Remora

48.  Rock beauty

49.  Spotted scorpionfish

50.  Sergeant major

 

Week #6: Fish

51.  Dog snapper

52.  Yellowtail snapper

53.  Squirrelfish

54.  Blue tang

55.  Tarpon

56.  Queen triggerfish

57.  Trumpetfish

58.  Spotted trunkfish

59.  Bluehead

60.  Slippery dick

 

Species previously listed but removed in Fall 2011:

1.      Tiger shark

 

 

 


Southern stingray

Description: southern_sting_ray_c.JPG

 

o   Dasyatis Americana

o   Key ID features: snout and tips of “wings” are pointed

o   Found only western Atlantic

o   Barbed, venomous tail

o   Diamond-shaped brown/grey body with white underside

o   Spotted during night dive in Hol Chan

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_stingray

o   Video from Belize 2010 (at time 0:58):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkQJtKVHczU

o   Photos from Belize: Southern stingray

 

 

Horseshoe ray

Description: horseshoe_ray_j.JPG

o   Key ID features: rounded, horseshoe shape

o   Spotted in abundance at Turtle Rock Island

o   Can be approached and touched

o   Spotted during night dive in Hol Chan

o   Video from Belize 2010:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwgcVvOPLP4

o   Photos from Belize: Horseshoe ray

 

 

 


Spotted eagle ray

Description: ray_spotted_eagle_0.jpg

 

o   Aetobatus narinari

o   Key ID features: numerous white spots and circular markings over dark back

o   Found in tropical waters throughout the world

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_eagle_ray

o   Video shot by Prof. Simon in Maui: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdlVR5iw0LM

o   Photos from Maui, Hawaii, 2009: Spotted eagle ray

o   Not spotted in Belize 2010

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 


Yellow-spotted stingray

 

o    Urobatis jamaicensis

o   Key ID features: numerous yellow spots and circular markings, smaller than other rays we see

o   Found in tropical waters throughout the world

o   http://www.elasmodiver.com/yellow_stingray.htm

 


Nurse shark

Description: nurse_shark_e.JPG

o   Ginglymostoma cirratum

o   Key ID features: two barbells on upper lip; two dorsal fins, of nearly equal size and set far back; small mouth

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_shark

o   Spotted at Coral Gardens and Turtle Rock Island

o   Can be approached and even touched

o   Can grow up to 14’ long and 300 lbs.

o   Usually found hiding under rock shelves on the ocean bottom in shallow water

o   Video from Belize 2010:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uES4NkkPcB4

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Nurse shark

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 

 


Green moray eel

 

o   Gymnothorax funebris

o   Key ID features: uniform green to brown color

o   Found along Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Brazil

o   Spotted during night dive at Hol Chan

o   Can grow up to 7 feet long

o   Often hide in crevices in rocks

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_moray_eel

o   Video from Belize 2010

 

 


Barracuda

 

o   27 known species of barracuda throughout the world

o   Key ID features: large underslung jaw with often obvious, pointed teeth

o   Can be several feet in length

o   Found in tropical waters throughout the world

o   Elongated body with razor-sharp teeth

o   They should be avoided, although they are not considered harmful to humans

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barracuda

o   Spotted in Belize 2010, but no photos/video

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 

 

 


Loggerhead turtle

Description: loggerhead_turtle_g.JPG

 

o   Caretta caretta

o   Key ID features: five pairs of costal scutes (large scales on carapace on either side of the midline)

o   Spotted at Turtle Rock island

o   Found throughout the world

o   Adults can weigh up to 300 lbs.

o   Endangered species

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_sea_turtle

o   Video from Belize 2010 (starting at 1:14):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22gMdrcUdYU

o   Photo gallery form Belize 2010: Loggerhead turtle

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 

 


Green sea turtle

Description: green_sea_turtle_b.JPG

o   Chelonia mydas

o   Key ID features: four pairs of costal scutes (large scales on carapace on either side of the midline)

o   Spotted at Hol Chan

o   Found in tropical oceans throughout the world

o   Feed on seagrass

o   Endangered species

o   Crawl on to beaches to lay eggs in sand

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_sea_turtle

o   Video from Belize 2010 (starting at 1:14): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22gMdrcUdYU

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Green sea turtle

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 


Hawksbill turtle

o   Eretmochelys imbricate

o   Key ID features: overlapping scutes (large scales on carapace); curved beak with distinct overbite

o   Critically endangered species

o   Found in tropical waters throughout the world

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawksbill_turtle

o   Not spotted in Belize 2010

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 

 

 


Branching vase sponge

Description: 12_17b

o   Callyspongia vaginalis

o   Habitat: shallow & mid-range coral reefs, walls, & rocky areas

o   Key ID traits:

·         Thin, stiff-walled tubes with large opening at end

·         Outer walls commonly have many irregular conical projections

·         Usually in clusters

o   http://species-identification.org/species.php?species_group=caribbean_diving_guide&id=443

o   Not spotted in Belize 2010

 

 


Elkhorn coral

Description: elkhorn_coral_a.JPG

o   Acropora palmata

o   Habitat: shallow areas with constant wave action

o   Key ID traits:

·         Flattened branches resembling the antlers of moose or elk

·         Brown to yellow-brown

o   Tidbits:

·         Grows rapidly – up to 5-6 inches per year

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acropora_palmata

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Elkhorn coral

o   Video from Belize 2010

 

 


Staghorn coral

Description: staghorn_coral_a.JPG

o   Acropora cervicornis

o   Habitat:

·         10-60 ft depths in calm water; most commonly on reefs but can be free-standing

o   Key ID traits:

·         Antler-like racks of cylindrical, tangled branches

·         Brown to yellow-brown

o   Tidbits:

·         Grows rapidly – up to 5-6 inches per year

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acropora_cervicornis

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Staghorn coral

o   Video from Belize 2010

 

 

 


Purple sea fan

Description: SeaFan_coral_a.JPG

o   Gorgonia ventalina

o   Habitat: seaward side of shallow reefs & slopes

o   Key ID traits:

·         Large fan in single plane

·         Commonly purple but occasionally yellow or brownish

o   http://www.thecephalopodpage.org/MarineInvertebrateZoology/Gorgoniaventalina.html

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Purple sea fan

o   Video of purple sea fans on a shipwreck, from Belize 2010

 

 


Brain coral

Description: brain_coral_a.JPG

o   Colpophyllia natans

o   Habitat: reef tops & seaward reef slopes; most common 20-80 feet deep

o   Key ID traits:

·         Large rounded domes with convoluted system of ridges/valleys on surface

·         Typically, ridges are brown and valleys are green, tan, or whitish

o   http://species-identification.org/species.php?species_group=caribbean_diving_guide&id=305

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010: Boulder Brain Coral

o   Video of brain coral on a shipwreck, from Belize 2010

 

 


Giant anemone

Description: GiantReefSeaAnemone_Cnidarian_2.JPG

o   Condylactis gigantean

o   Habitat: reef crevasses

o   Key ID traits:

·         Largest of anemones

·         Tentacles & body white w/tints of gray, brown, yellow or green

·         Tentacles are long w/slightly enlarged tips that may be pink, lavender, yellow, or occasionally white

o   Tidbits:

·         A number of cleaning shrimp are known to associate with this anemone

·         Nematocysts are not toxic to humans, although they may produce mild irritation to sensitive skin

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condylactis_gigantea

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (2 photos): Giant anemone

o   Spotted in only one place in Jan 2010: Hol Chan Marine Preserve

 

 


Queen conch

Description: Conch_Gastropod_Mollusc_2.JPG

o   Strombus gigas

o   Habitat: seagrass beds & sand flats

o   Key ID traits:

·         Large, orangeish shell w/blunt spikes

·         Aperture is rosy pink

o   Tidbits:

·         Commonly served deep fried throughout the Caribbean

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strombus_gigas

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Queen conch

o   Spotted in abundance in Jan 2010

 

 


Flamingo tongue

Description: flamingo_tongue_gastropod_3.JPG

o   Cyphoma gibbosum

o   Habitat: attached to gorgonian corals (like common sea fan), which they feed on

o   Key ID traits:

·         Cream-white shell covered w/orangeish spots w/black outlines

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyphoma_gibbosum

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (3 photos): Flamingo tongue

o   Spotted in abundance in Jan 2010, always on a purple sea fan

 

 


Spotted sea hare

Description: seahare_b.JPG

o   Aplysia dactylomela

o   Habitat: prefer grassy flats w/scattered rocks; we will likely see them in rock crevasses of jetty near boat dock

o   Key ID traits:

·         Light brown to green w/irregular spots outlined in black

o   Tidbits:

·         When disturbed, will discharge ink

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aplysia_dactylomela

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (9 photos): Spotted sea hare

o   Video of Prof. Newcomb showing off a sea hare from Belize 2010

o   Spotted frequently in Belize Jan 2010 near boat dock

 

 


Caribbean reef squid

o   Sepioteuthis sepioidea

o   Habitat: shallow waters, often swimming over reefs and seagrass beds

o   Key ID traits:

·         Color varies: during day bluish gray to brown w/white spots on back; at night mottled & spotted in shades of white, brown, green & lavender

·         Arms/tentacles are shorter than body

o   Tidbits:

·         Use jet propulsion (squirting water out of a siphon) to rapidly move

·         Can release ink, like spotted seahare

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepioteuthis_sepioidea

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (3 photos): Reef squid

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, during Hol Chan night dive

 

 

 


Christmas tree worm

Description: ChristmasTreeWorm_polychaete_annelid_2.JPG

o   Spirobranchus giganteus

o   Habitat: all areas of reefs; tubes usually encased in living coral

o   Key ID traits:

·         Two spiraled crowns

·         Tubes usually hidden

o   Tidbits:

·         May retract crowns into tube when approached

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree_worm

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (2 photos): Christmas tree worm

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, often associated with brain coral

 

 


Caribbean spiny lobster

Description: SpinyLobster_Molt_Crustacean_Arthropod.JPG

o   Panulirus argus

o   Habitat: protective recesses of reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Carapace has shaded areas of brown & tan w/few dark spots

·         Pair of long, conical antennae

o   Tidbits:

·         When disturbed, can swim backwards with powerful strokes of tail

·         Occasional mass migrations of up to 50 individuals move in a single-file line

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_spiny_lobster

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (3 photos): Spiny lobster

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually tucked in crevasses on reefs

o   The photo above shows a molted shell of a spiny lobster

 

 


Spanish lobster

Description: 100114ga_night_slipperlobster 244.jpg

o   Scyllarides aequinoctialis

o   Habitat: protective recesses of coral reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Reddish brown to orangish brown

·         Flattened, plate-like antennae

o   Tidbits:

·         When disturbed, can swim backwards with rapid, powerful strokes of tail

·         Also known as the “shovel-nosed lobster”

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scyllarides_aequinoctialis

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Spanish lobster

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, in Hol Chan during night dive

 

 


Spiny brittle star

Photo from http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm

o   Ophiocoma paucigranulata

o   Habitat: associate w/living corals of reef

o   Key ID traits:

·         Numerous, long, pointed spines cover arms

·         Shades of brown

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, in Hol Chan during night dive

o   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm

 

 

 


Long-spined urchin

Description: black_sea_urchin_3.JPG

o   Diadema antillarum

o   Habitat: everywhere! (may hide in recesses during day)

o   Key ID traits:

·         Numerous long, thin, sharp spines

·         All black

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diadema_antillarum

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, often in crevasses of reefs

 

 


Variegated urchin

Photo from http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod/208755/product.web

o   Lytechinus variegates

o   Habitat: sea grass beds & reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Densely covered w/short spines which part to form grooves at joints of major plates

·         Commonly white to green in Caribbean

o   Tidbits:

·         Often cover themselves w/sea grass & other debris

·         Squat urchin shrimp often lives among spines

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lytechinus_variegatus

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, often in crevasses of reefs

 

 


West Indian sea egg

Description: WestIndianSeaEgg_echinoderm.JPG

o   Tripneustes ventricosus

o   Habitat: sea grass beds & occasionally reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Densely covered w/short spines

·         Body usually black

o   Tidbits:

·         Often cover themselves w/sea grass & other debris

·         Harvested for roe

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripneustes_ventricosus

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, often in crevasses of reefs

 

 


Slate-pencil urchin

o   Eucidaris tribuloides

o   Habitat: sea grass beds, reef rubble, & reefs; often hide in sheltered locations

o   Key ID traits:

·         Thick, cylindrical, blunt spines

·         Body reddish brown

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucidaris_tribuloides

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, often in crevasses of reefs

o   The photo above was taken in Hawaii (off Puako, Big Island, Summer 2009)

 

 


Sand dollar

Description: sand_dollar_a.JPG

o   Clypeaster subdepressus

o   Habitat: sandy areas around reefs; tend to burrow beneath sand

o   Key ID traits:

·         Disc-shaped w/no notches or holes

·         Pentagonal petal design on back

·         Living specimens are shades of brown; shells of dead specimens are gray

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_dollar

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually on the sand of soft-bottom communities

 

 


Donkey dung sea cucumber

Description: DonkeyDung_SeaCumcumber_Echinoderm_4.JPG

o   Holothuria mexicana

o   Habitat: sea grass beds & sandy areas around reefs; most common between 10 & 35 feet deep

o   Key ID traits:

·         Dark gray to black w/deep, conspicuous creases

o   Tidbits:

·         Like all sea cucumbers, if disturbed, may “spit” water

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holothuria_mexicana

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually on the sand of soft-bottom communities

 

 


Gray angelfish

Description: grey_angelfish_b.JPG

o   Pomacanthus arcuatus

o   Habitat: swim about reefs, often in pairs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adult: yellow inner face of pectoral fin; square-cut tail

·         Juvenile: square-cut tail with white to transparent margin

o   Tidbits:

·         May clean parasites and debris from larger fish

·         Swim with short, straight motions

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomacanthus_arcuatus

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Grey angelfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually around reefs

 

 


Queen angelfish

Description: Queen Angelfish.JPG

o   Holacanthus ciliaris

o   Habitat: reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adult: dark blue spot on forehead, speckled and ringed with brilliant blue; yellow tail

·         Juvenile: second blue body bar is curved

o   Tidbits:

·         Often act as cleaners

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_angelfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (2 photos): Grey angelfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually around reefs

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 


Ballyhoo

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/hbpeggy/2696844092/

o   Hemiramphus brasiliensis

o   Habitat: shallow inshore waters, swimming/drifting just below surface

o   Key ID traits:

·         Upper lobe of tail yellow to orange

·         Upper jaw extremely short; lower jaw long with yellow to orange/red tip

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballyhoo

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually just under the surface

 


Yellowtail damselfish

Description: Yellowtail Damselfish 1.JPG  Description: Yellowtail Damselfish (juvenile) 3 (2).JPG

o   Microspathodon chrysurus

o   Habitat: reef tops; juveniles often inhabit areas of fire coral

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adult: yellow tail

·         Juvenile: brilliant blue dots on dark blue; translucent to whitish tail

o   Tidbits:

·         Juveniles sometimes called jewelfish because of bright blue dots

·         Adults can sometimes be approached

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microspathodon_chrysurus

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Yellowtail damselfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually around reefs

 


Peacock flounder

Photo from http://www.ictbz.com/bits/photos/group/78162188@N00/photo//photo/395407735/Peacock_Flounder.html

o   Bothus lunatus

o   Habitat: sand, coral rubble, and sea grass; rest motionless on bottom, blending with background

o   Key ID traits:

·         Numerous blue rosettes over entire body

·         Numerous blue spots on fins and head

o   Tidbits:

·         Can darken or pale and change color dramatically to match bottom

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peacock_flounder

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, on sandy bottom

 


Yellow goatfish

Description: Yellow Goatfish 1.JPG

o   Mulloidichthys martinicus

o   Habitat: sandy areas near reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Yellow tail and midbody stripe

·         Two barbels under tip of chin

o   Tidbits:

·         Use barbels to dig in sand

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_goatfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically on sand around reefs

 


Black grouper

Description: Black Grouper 5 (2).JPG

o   Mycteroperca bonaci

o   Habitat: near reefs, often drifting near bottom

o   Key ID traits:

·         Ends of rectangular blotches on upper body are nearly square

·         Tail has wide, black margin with thin, whit edge

o   Tidbits:

·         Big: 1.5-3 feet long

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_grouper

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (5 photos): Black grouper

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically near bottom around reefs

 


Nassau grouper

Photo from  http://iblog.at/fptravels/tag/yellow-tail-snapper/

o   Epinephelus striatus

o   Habitat: shallow to mid-range coral reefs, often resting on bottom

o   Key ID traits:

·         Black saddle spot on base of tail

·         Dorsal fin notched between forward spines

o   Tidbits:

·         Big: 1-2 feet long

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nassau_grouper

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically near bottom around reefs

 


Bluestriped grunt

Description: Bluestriped Grunt 3.JPG

o   Haemulon sciuris

o   Habitat: congregate in small to midsized schools near reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Dark tail and rear dorsal fin

·         Blue stripes

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Striped_Grunt

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (15 photos): Bluestriped grunt

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically in large schools near reefs

o   Video of a school of bluestriped grunts (and others) from Belize 2010

 


French grunt

Description: French Grunt.JPG

o   Haemulon flavolineatum

o   Habitat: congregate in small to midsized schools near reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Dark tail and rear dorsal fin

·         Blue stripes

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically in schools near reefs

 


Hogfish

Description: Hogfish.JPG

o   Lachnolaimus maximus

o   Habitat: most common on open bottoms but sometimes on reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         First three spines of dorsal fin are long

·         Black blotch near end of dorsal fin

o   Tidbits:

·         Get their name from their pronounced snout

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically near bottom

 


Horse-eye Jack

Description: Horse-Eye Jack 5.JPG

o   Caranx latus

o   Habitat: open water over reefs, often in small groups to large schools

o   Key ID traits:

·         Large eyes

·         Usually bright yellow tail

·         Dark, nearly black scutes (specialized scales along rear portion of lateral line)

o   Tidbits:

·         Occasionally will rapidly approach and swirl around snorkelers/divers

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse-eye_jack

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (9 photos): Horse-eye jack

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically in open water

 


Princess Parrotfish

Photo from http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/NxdZVEwTPvchhsAnwafSQQ

o   Scarus taeniopterus

o   Habitat: reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adults: borders of tail yellow to orange or pink; yellow or orangish stripe down midbody, fading toward rear

·         Juveniles: borders of tail dark

o   Tidbits:

·         Scrape algae from rocks and coral

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Parrotfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically near reefs

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 


Queen Parrotfish

Description: Queen Parrotfish.JPG

o   Scarus vetula

o   Habitat: reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Dramatic blue to green markings around mouth

·         Light bar on pectoral fin

o   Tidbits:

·         Scrape algae from rocks and coral

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_parrotfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically near reefs

 


Stoplight Parrotfish

 

Description: Stoplight Parrotfish 1 (2).JPG  Description: Stoplight Parrotfish (intermediate) 1 (2).JPG

o   Sparisoma viride

o   Habitat: reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adults: bright yellow spot at upper corner of gill cover; yellow area at base of tail; salmon to yellow crescent on tail

·         Intermediate: red belly and tail

·         Juvenile: three rows of widely spaced white spots run length of body

o   Tidbits:

·         Scrape algae from rocks and coral

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoplight_parrotfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (5 photos): Stoplight parrotfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize (especially intermediate forms), typically near reefs

 


Porcupinefish

Description: Porcupinefish 1.JPG

o   Diodon hystrix

o   Habitat: in or near cave openings/reef recesses; occasionally in grassy areas

o   Key ID traits:

·         Spots on fins

o   Tidbits:

·         Long spines erect only when inflated

·         Also known as the spotted spiny puffer

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diodon_hystrix

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (5 photos): Porcupinefish

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, over seagrass at Turtle Rock Island

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

 


Remora

Description: loggerhead_turtle_k.JPG

o   Remora remora

o   Habitat: attach to large free-swimming fishes and turtles

o   Key ID traits:

·         Uniform coloration without distinctive markings

o   Tidbits:

·         Have a radically modified fin that forms a sucking disc on top of the head for attaching to host

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remora_remora

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, attached to loggerhead turtle

 


Rock Beauty

Description: rockbeauty (2).JPG

o   Holacanthus tricolor

o   Habitat: establish defined territories on reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Yellow to yellow-orange forebody and tail

·         Mid and rear body black

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_beauty

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Rock beauty

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, typically on reefs

 


Spotted Scorpionfish

Description: scorpionfish_a (2).JPG

o   Scorpaena plumier

o   Habitat: lie motionless on reefs and bottom habitats, blending with background

o   Key ID traits:

·         Three dark bars on tail

·         Back side of pectoral fin, near base, has black area with brilliant white spots

o   Tidbits:

·         Spines on foredorsal fin are venomous and can cause severe pain and illness in humans

o   http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=1201

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (2 photos): Scorpionfish

o   Video from Belize 2010

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, camouflaged on bottom

 


Sergeant Major

Description: Sergeant Major 4.JPG

o   Abudefduf saxatilis

o   Habitat: all habitats, most often in midwater; sometimes in loose aggregations

o   Key ID traits:

·         Five black body bars

·         Upper lip does not overhang lower

o   Tidbits:

·         Egg-guarding males aggressively chase intruders away from nests

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergeant_major_%28fish%29

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (9 photos): Sergeant major

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, in midwater around various habitats

o   Click here to see a Fall 2010 student PowerPoint on this species

o   Video of a school of juvenile blueheads (and some sergeant majors) from Belize 2010

 


Dog Snapper

Description: Dog Snapper 1 (2).JPG

o   Lutjanus jocu

o   Habitat: mid-range reefs and wrecks

o   Key ID traits:

·         Pale triangular patch under eye

o   Tidbits:

·         Can be found as far north as Massachusetts

o   http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=154

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Dog snapper

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, in midwater around reefs

 


Yellowtail Snapper

Description: Yellowtail Snapper 2 (2).JPG

o   Ocyurus chrysurus

o   Habitat: above reefs; can be found alone or in loose schools

o   Key ID traits:

·         Brilliant yellow midbody stripe and tail

o   Tidbits:

·         Typically unafraid of snorkelers

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowtail_snapper

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (3 photos): Yellowtail snapper

o   Video of a cave dive, where you’ll see me swim right by a yellowtail snapper. from Belize 2010

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, around reefs

 


Squirrelfish

Description: Squirrelfish 1 (2).JPG

o   Holocentrus adscensionis

o   Habitat: during day, drifts inconspicuously in shaded areas near bottom

o   Key ID traits:

·         Yellowish front dorsal fin

o   Tidbits:

·         Big eyes!

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squirrelfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (5 photos): Squirrelfish

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, hidden in shady spots of reefs

 


Blue Tang

Description: blue_tang_j (2).JPG  Description: blue_tang_g (2).JPG

o   Acanthurus coeruleus

o   Habitat: shallow reef tops; often in loose schools

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adult: white or yellow spine on base of tail

·         Intermediate: blue head and body; yellow tail

·         Juvenile: bright yellow overall

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acanthurus_coeruleus

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (19 photos): Blue tang

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, near reefs

 


Tarpon

Photo from http://www.richard-seaman.com/Underwater/Belize/SportFish/index.html

o   Megalops atlanticus

o   Habitat: drift in canyons and secluded areas; normally school during the day

o   Key ID traits:

·         Upturned mouth

o   Tidbits:

·         Can get up to 8 feet long!

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarpon

o   Spotted once in Jan 2010 in Belize, in canyon at Hol Chan

 


Queen Triggerfish

Description: queen_triggerfish_a (2).JPG

o   Balistes vetula

o   Habitat: reef tops, coral rubble, and grass beds

o   Key ID traits:

·         Streaming tips on rear dorsal and tail fan

·         Two blue stripes on face

·         Small lines radiate from around eye

o   Tidbits:

·         Fond of eating sea urchins

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_triggerfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (2 photos): Queen triggerfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, around reefs

 


Trumpetfish

Description: trumpetfish_b (2).JPG

o   Aulostomus maculatus

o   Habitat: coral reefs

o   Key ID traits:

·         Trumpet-like mouth

o   Tidbits:

·         Often drift in vertical position with head down, paralleling stalks of sea rods

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumpetfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (3 photos): Trumpetfish

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, around reefs

 


Spotted Trunkfish

Description: Spotted Trunkfish 2 (2).JPG

o   Lactophrys bicaudalis

o   Habitat: often above reefs, hovering in openings or under ledges

o   Key ID traits:

·         White, covered with black spots, including tail

·         White around mouth

o   Tidbits:

·         Very funky-shaped fish!

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_trunkfish

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (9 photos): Spotted trunkfish

o   Video1 and Video2 of a spotted trunkfish, shot during a night dive at Hol Chan, from Belize 2010

o   Spotted on occasion in Jan 2010 in Belize, usually around sea grass beds

 


Bluehead

Description: bluehead_wrasse_b (2).JPG

o   Thalassoma bifasciatum

o   Also known as the bluehead wrasse

o   Habitat: around reefs, sometimes in schools

o   Key ID traits:

·         Adult: blue head; two dark bars behind head, separated by white bar

·         Intermediate & juvenile: black spot behind second dorsal ray extends to base of fin

o   Tidbits:

·         May act as cleaners for larger fish

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalassoma_bifasciatum

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (12 photos): Bluehead

o   Video of a school of juvenile blueheads (and some sergeant majors) from Belize 2010

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, around reefs and conch graveyard

 


Slippery Dick

Description: Slippery Dick 1 (2).JPG

o   Halichoeres bivittatus

o   Habitat: around reefs, adjacent sandy areas and grass beds

o   Key ID traits:

·         Small green and yellow bicolored spot above pectoral fin

·         Darkish to black midbody stripe with a second, lower stripe that is less distinct

·         Dark triangular corners on tail

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_dick

o   Photo gallery from Belize 2010 (4 photos): Slippery dick

o   Spotted frequently in Jan 2010 in Belize, around reefs and conch graveyard

 

 

 


Tiger shark

 

o   Galeocerdo cuvier

o   Key ID features: dark bars and blotches on body

o   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_shark

o   Found in tropical waters throughout the world

o   Mostly lone, nocturnal hunters of large prey

o   Known to attack humans

o   If you see one, leave!

o   Not spotted in Belize 2010

o   Click here to see a student PowerPoint on this species

 

 

 

 


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