A short snorkel on a healthy tropical coral reefs gives you the opportunity to see more vertebrates in a shorter time than any other ecosystem...
This is the largest group of vertebrates in the world.
Gymnothorax thyrsoideus, 'Black-faced Moray Eel'. This eel is reported to be found in shallow more turbid waters around coral reefs, including wrecks. Widespread through tropical Indo-Pacific.
Family Clupeidae: Herrings, Sardines
Herrings or 'sardines' often form huge schools.
Aeoliscus strigatus, 'Razorfish' (Panagsama, Philippines).
Pterois sp. 'Lionfish' (Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands).
Cephalopholis argus, 'Peacock Grouper', 'Argus Grouper' (Farquar, Seychelles).
Anthias (Mangalonga, Solomon Islands).
Includes the fast and predatory 'Trevally', known as 'Jacks' in the Americas.
Caranx ignobilis, 'Giant Trevally' (Aitutaki Fiji).
Gnathanodon speciosus, 'Golden Trevally', 'Barred Trevally', being serviced by Cleaner Wrasse. Despite the first common name, they are only bright yellow when young, retaining the colour on the tips of fins and tail as they mature. And despite the second common name, the bars also fade as they age.
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides, 'Many Spotted Sweetlips', 'Harlequin Sweetlips', juvenile (Panagsama, Philippines). The juvenile of this species impersonates a toxic flatworm.
Lutjanus fulviflamma, 'Black-spot Snapper'.
Goatfish have barbels that hang down from their 'chin'.
Mulloidichthys vanicolensis, 'Yellowfin Goatfish'.
'Bullseye' or 'Bigeyes' are small and unusually shaped fish with huge eyes. They feed by night on zooplankton, then during the day they usually rest in schools underneath coral ledges.
Pempheris tominagai, 'African Silver Sweeper'?. Found in north-west Australia, western Indonesia, across Indian Ocean, Red Sea and to east African coast. (This is replaced by similar looking 'Silver Sweeper' Pempheris schwenkii along the rest of Australian coast, through Indonesia and to tropical Pacific).
Scarus scaber, 'Dusky-capped Parrotfish', 'Five-saddle Parrotfish'. Found between Indonesia across the Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa.
Thalassomma hardwicke, 'Six-Banded/Sixbar Wrasse'.
Thalassoma lutescens, 'Green Moon Wrasse', 'Blue-fin Wrasse', 'Yellow-brown Wrasse' and many other common names! Widespread and common on tropical coral reefs through Indo-Pacific.
Hemigymnus fasciatus, 'Thick-lipped Wrasse'.
Coris gaimard, 'Yellowtail Coris', 'African Coris', 'Clown Wrasse'. Usually has yellow tail, blue spots and green stripes on head. Terminal Phase/males have pinkish head and yellow bar on side. Females have reddish body. Juveniles have reddish body with white spots, almost like a clownfish. Widespread; found on coral reefs across much of tropical Indo-Pacific, north to Japan.
Like Butterflyfish, Angelfish are also rather plate-shaped. However, they are more squarish in profile.
Centropyge flavissima, 'Lemonpeel Angelfish' (Aitutaki Fiji).
Pygoplites diacanthus , 'Regal Angelfish' (Bali Barat NP, Indonesia).
There is only one species in this family.
Zanclus cornutus, 'Moorish idol' (Kakaban, Indonesia).
Zebrasoma veliferum, 'Sailfin Tang', (Aitutaki Fiji).
Acanthurus triostegus, 'Convict Tang'. Widespread throughout tropical Indo-Pacific.
Melichthys vidua, 'Pink-tailed Triggerfish'.
Balistoides viridescens, 'Titan Triggerfish'. Large; largest triggerfish in Indo-Pacific (there is a larger species in far eastern Pacific). During nesting season the females get very aggressive and may charge and bite. One of these large football-shaped fish racing towards you is one of the scariest things on the coral reef!
Rhinecanthus rectangulus, 'Wedge-tail Triggerfish', 'Black-banded Triggerfish', 'Humuhumu'. This is one of the two fish in Hawaii known as Humuhumunukunnukuapua'a (triggerfish with snout like a pig) . It is the state fish of Hawaii. Found widely on coral reefs across the tropical Indo-Pacific.
Canthigaster valentini, 'Valentin's Sharpnose/Black Saddled Puffer/Toby' (Miyako Island, Japan).
Ostracion meleagris, '(White) Spotted Boxfish', (Niue).