Puerto Rican Sea Life

Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Rico’s waters are full of fascinating marine life. From sea turtles to fish, from whales to sharks, there is plenty for scuba divers and snorkelers to discover while dipping below the surface. Besides the parrotfish, bananafish, sardines, groupers, red snappers, humpback whales and hawksbill turtles, there are many interesting little marine creatures worth discovering.

A variety of crustaceans reside along the coastline of Puerto Rico. The well-known hermit crab makes use of abandoned mollusk shells, inhabiting the shells in order to protect itself. Hermit crabs have to find new shells as they grow. The ghost crab is largely found on beaches where it buries itself in the sand during the day, coming out at night to feed. Interestingly, this crab species can remain away from water for about 48 hours, before it needs to dampen its gill chambers.

Sea urchins, starfish and sea cucumbers are another group of sea animals that can be spotted in Puerto Rico. These interesting creatures are able to move themselves using spines or tube feet. Amazingly, some fish and crustaceans may be found living inside large sea cucumbers. The sea urchin is covered in pointed barbs, except for its mouth, which is found on the underside, grazing on algae. The sea urchin is considered a delicacy in many countries. Be careful of getting a sea urchin barb in your foot or hand, as they are not easily removed.

Another group of sea life consists of anemones, jellyfish, corals and hydroids. Common amongst these animals are their stinging capsules. Box jellies, also referred to as sea wasps, can be found in Puerto Rico’s waters between August and October. It is best to avoid these as they have a nasty sting. Sea anemones are bottom-dwellers that dine on prey stunned in their tentacles. If threatened they will retract their tentacles.

Sea sponges are extremely simple multi-celled organisms, surviving on plankton that is filtered out of the water. They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, creating a stunning landscape under the water.

Among Puerto Rico’s most renowned marine life are the dinoflagellates. These microorganisms are chiefly found around the island of Vieques and at La Parguera. When disturbed they begin to luminesce. Boat tours of the country’s bioluminescent bays are very popular, offering a unique opportunity to watch the waters light up on a dark night.