Best Spots To Find Marine Life While Diving

By Scuba Diver Life

We’re guessing more than a few of you have marveled at a divemaster’s ability to find marine life, even on a seemingly barren stretch of reef, and would like to learn to do the same. Although much of an experienced dive guide’s spotting prowess stems from an intimate knowledge of a dive site, guides also draw upon a comprehensive awareness of which underwater environments are favored by which species. You too can develop this awareness and subsequently use it to spot marine life at any dive site, regardless of how well you know it. 

  • Reef walls

    The drop-off created when a reef wall plunges suddenly into the abyss is one of the most rewarding places for underwater wildlife spotting. Here you have the best of both worlds — the reef on one side, and the deep blue on the other. 

  • Reef walls, cont

    This is one of the most successful environments for spotting pelagic species, including sharks, rays and game fish, all of which favor the deeper water of the drop-off. The sudden change in the topography of the seafloor also forces an upwelling of nutrient-rich water, which attracts a wide variety of marine species. 

  • Sandy patches

    The sandy patches between sections of reef are great for spotting all those benthic species that use sand to camouflage themselves, including rays, sand-tiger sharks, flounders, garden eels and crocodilefish. Usually, animals will cover themselves with sand for one of two reasons, either to hide from predators or to ambush unsuspecting prey. 

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    As a result, you will need a keen eye to spot animals in this environment. Look for protruding eyes or for the displacement of sand as an animal pushes water through its spiracle (the respiratory hole behind the eye of some elasmobranch species). 

  • Anemones

    Anemones are a jackpot for any marine-life enthusiast, as they almost always act as a host for at least one tiny critter. The most obvious anemone-dwellers in tropical regions are the anemonefish or clownfish that live exclusively in this specialized environment, usually in breeding pairs or small colonies. 

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    Different anemone species also provide a home for other commensal animals, including crabs, shrimp and pipefish. If you take the time to explore which anemone hosts which species, you will soon be able to reliably locate any number of fascinating macro creatures. 

  • Overhangs/crevices

    If you ever find yourself struggling to find life on the reef, there’s a good chance you’re not looking under the ledges of natural overhangs or into the dark recesses of its holes and crevices. These are great places to find nocturnal creatures resting during the day, as well as for creatures that like to find a sheltered spot and move in. 

  • Overhangs, cont

    All manner of marine life can be found in these environments, most notably cuttlefish, octopus, eels, frogfish, sleeping reef sharks and large groupers. To explore these environments properly, you will need a dive light.