Colorful Colombian Coral

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Colombia has some of the loveliest coral in the world, whether you dive into the crystal clear Caribbean waters close to cities […]

Colombia has some of the loveliest coral in the world, whether you dive into the crystal clear Caribbean waters close to cities like Santa Marta,  islands like San Andres or you venture west to explore the marine life in the Pacific Ocean. But what exactly should you hope to find? Here’s our guide to Colombian coral.

Vertebrates

Fish

Fish are coral’s greatest attraction and you’ll spot many in Colombia’s waters, including the beautiful four-eye butterfly fish, princess parrotfish and the rock beauty. (You may also enjoy: Colombia’s Paradise Islands)

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Photo: Gildardo Sánchez

Manatees

The West Indian manatee is sometimes spotted in Colombia’s oceans. This “sea cow” can grow up to 4.6m (15ft) long and likes shallow water.

Turtles

Leatherback sea turtles are a much-loved Colombian visitor. They can be seen swimming among our coral or crawling onto beaches to lay their eggs.

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Photo: Ratha Grimes

Snakes

Colombia, incredibly, boasts 31 sea snake species and many of those are found among the coral in the Pacific, including the yellow-bellied sea snake. (You can also read: Colombia’s diverse mountain climates)

Dolphins

Dolphins are frequent coral visitors and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the long-beaked common dolphin swimming in Colombian waters.

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Photo: Wikimedia

Invertebrates

Sponges

Coral reef sponges usually come in three forms – vase, tube or encrusting sponges –and they add brilliant yellow, red, orange and pink colors to our reefs.

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Photo: Ratha Grimes

Mollusks

Most Colombian mollusks, including snails, clams and scallops, like the ocean floor whereas octopus and squid tend to venture out into the open ocean. (You may also enjoy: 7 curious Colombian animals)

Crustaceans

Colombia’s coral is home to lobsters, crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans and many clean the coral, by eating the parasites that live on fish or other invertebrates.

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Photo: Javier Acuña

Echinoderms

Sea urchins and sea stars, or starfish, are Colombia’s most common echinoderms and can be seen moving slowly over its coral reef.

Sea Worms

Some of Colombia’s sea worms are sedentary, whereas others move around the reef. All are easy to spot thanks to their many bristles.

fish, turtles, manatees, snakes, dolphins, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea snail, clam, scallop, octopus, squid, sea urchin, starfish, sea worm, coral, caribbean, pacific, ocean, reef

Coral – Photo: Ratha Grimes

It’s clear that if you love to dive in the world’s most beautiful waters, the answer is Colombia. If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of your social networks.