Coral Reef

The tropical coral reefs are the most beautiful ecosystem in the world. There, I said it!


Sponges are easily overlooked, but can be colourful and striking. They are a very simple animal, filter feeding through the water from a stationary position. They vary in form, with some species growing distinctly shaped structures that look like balls, large cups or funnels, or they may simply grow as encrusting layers. 

Of course the very structure of coral reefs is provided by the hard coral themselves. Even though they are formed by animals, in some ways they fulfil the role of plants in a terrestrial ecosystem.

(Wagifa, Papua New Guinea)

There is a great range of 'worms' on and through the coral reefs, many of which are not related to each other. While most species are not seen, some, like the 'Feather Duster Worms' and 'Christmas Tree Worms', have colourful and noticeable fluffy feeding apparatus.

(Wagifa Island, PNG)

One of the prettiest animals of the coral reef are the Feather-stars. For most of their life, they stand on reefs and catch food as it passes by through the water.

As slow moving and large animals, Sea cucumbers are commonly seen around coral reefs. Most species sift through the sand looking for food.

(Rajah Ampat, Indonesia)

Sea Squirts look superficially similar to Sponges, however, they are about as unrelated as an 'invertebrate' can be.

For the page on invertebrates: Sponges, Sea Jellies, Corals, Anemones, 'Flatworms', Molluscs: 'Feather Stars', 'Sea Urchins', 'Sea Cucumbers'

Class Chondrichthyes

Family Myliobatidae: Eagle Rays


Aetobatus narinari, 'Spotted Eagle Ray'.

For the page on the bony fish of the Indo-Pacific tropical coral reefs

(Miyako, Japan)

For the page on damselfish (including anemonefish) of coral reefs

(Miyako, Japan)

For the page on butterflyfish of the Indo-Pacific tropical coral reefs


(Green Turtle, Fitzroy Island, Queensland, Australia)

There are half a dozen turtle species that can be seen around the tropical Indo-Pacific coral reefs. 

now, there was a sea krait around here somewhere...

'Sea Kraits' are beautiful and innocuous, sometimes curious, animals.


(Montgomery Reef, Australia)

While many birds visit the waters around coral reefs, there are few birds that specialise on reefs; one of them is the Reef Egret. These birds come out around islands when the lower tides reveal the coral reefs.

For the page on birds of Indo-Pacific coral reefs

Places to see Indo-Pacific tropical coral reefs

The biggest reef in the world is of course the Great Barrier Reef, off eastern Australia. One of the best islands for reef is Lizard Island. Along the edge of this reef are the beautiful Ribbon Reefs. South of the Great Barrier Reef is some great coral and fish on the Tangalooma Wrecks. On the west coast of Australia there are other reefs, including Montgomery Reef in the north east, and further south is Ningaloo Reef.

The south west Pacific includes the Solomon Islands, my favourite country for snorkelling. One of the best sites in this area is at Maravagi Resort, on Mangalonga Island. Other areas in the Solomon Islands include: Uepi Resort, Marovo Lagoon and Arnavon (Arnarvon) Islands.

At a similar latitude is the relatively unspoilt island of New Guinea. This is my second favourite coral reef region; both sides of New Guinea (Indonesian New Guinea and Papua New Guinea) have incredible snorkelling. This area includes the most diverse coral reefs in the world, at Rajah Ampat.

Dominating the Indo-Pacific coral reefs is the huge country of Indonesia, including Kakaban Island. Indonesia also includes:  Menjangan Island, Bali Barat and Pink Beach Komodo.

Heading north there are the remote islands of Micronesia, including the stunning Palau. Then there is the diverse and many islands of the Philippines, including Panagsama. Even further north is the extent of tropical coral reefs, Japan. Here, snorkelling is easy at Miyako Island.

More remote areas across the vast Pacific include Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, Niue and further east Bora Bora, in French Polynesia. 

On the other side of the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa, are the Seychelles. Included in this island group is Farquhar Atoll.

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