There’s an entire world under the surface of the sea, and one of the best ways to see it is through the lens of a snorkeling mask. Here are four underwater creatures to keep an eye out for while taking a dip in some of the world’s most incredible oceans.
What: Nurse sharks
Many of the world’s snorkelling destinations offer the chance to get up close and personal with sharks. Most of these large fish are nowhere near as fearsome as they’re often represented in films and on television. Nurse sharks are slow-moving and keep close to the bottom of the sea floor, where they feed on small fish, shrimp, and squid. Although these sharks are generally harmless, don’t touch them; swim and let swim!
Where: Southern Thailand
If you’ve seen Pixar’s 2003 film Finding Nemo, you’re already familiar with clownfish. These bright orange swimmers are small, omnivorous fish that live in colonies. They generally live in coral reefs, where they form symbiotic relationships with sea anemones: the anemones, generally don’t strike clownfish with their stingers (and, when they do, clownfish have evolved a thick mucous layer that protects them) and allow clownfish to live among their tentacles; in return for a safe home, clownfish feed on algae and bacteria on the anemones, which keeps them clean. Clownfish are not always bright orange: some clownfish are black, while others are yellow or display more muted shades of pink.
What: Manta rays
Manta rays are populous off the coast of western Australia — meaning snorkelers have a good chance of swimming amongst them. These rays glide through the water with seemingly little effort — at sometimes very high speeds — and occasionally leap out of the ocean, falling back into the waves with a loud “slap.” Unlike sting rays, manta rays don’t have a sharp barb at the end of their tails. This, together with their toothless mouths, makes them very safe snorkeling companions.
Where: New Zealand
Spotting an octopus while snorkelling off the coast of New Zealand is a wildlife-lover’s dream. However, these fascinating sea animals are much more difficult to spot than their fishy friends: octopus are shy and reserved creatures, and often hide in nooks and coral crannies to keep safe from predators and other threats. Keep your eyes peeled, and dive in!