Animals of the Caribbean Coral Reef

Animals of the Caribbean Coral ReefThe Caribbean coral reef is a rare ecosystem that supports thousands of species of fish and other animals. Because this tropical ocean environment is somewhat devoid of standard nutrients, many animals have developed unusual methods of obtaining food and avoiding predators.


Many of the fish in the Caribbean reefs have special survival techniques that help them avoid predators. The puffer fish (pictured above), which is sometimes called a porcupine fish, has small spines all over its body that typically lie flat. However, when threatened, the puffer fish puffs, which causes the spines to stick out. This makes the puffer fish both too large to be eaten and also dangerous to the attacker.
The spotted scorpion fish has venomous spines that cover its body for protection as well as camouflage. It can be found in shallow reefs, but its spots and coloring means it blends in with the surroundings and can be difficult to spot.
The frogfish looks like a sponge, which is part of its survival strategy. This camouflage helps it hide among the other sponge creatures while it moves around looking for food.



Arthropods have multiple segments, including a head and a rigid exoskeleton. The exoskeleton provides protection against predators. Arthropods include animals such as lobster, crabs, and shrimp.
The Caribbean spiny lobster does not have big claws like a typical lobster that you might think of. Instead, it relies on spines that cover its shell to protect it from predators.
Sea spiders are not true arachnids, but the visual characteristics of a small body and long legs make them look like land spiders. Sea spiders are small, ranging from one-celled creatures to about one-quarter of an inch.


Mollusks have a simple body, and can have either a soft body or a hard shell. They use cilia or mucous to move around, which helps them escape from predators. They also have a defense mechanism of squirting a dark ink to confuse a predator while they swim away.
Unlike some other squid, the Caribbean reef squid can be found on shallow reefs and is often unafraid of divers. It has a torpedo-like body with eight appendages, both tentacles and fins, that help it move quickly. When in danger, the squid can eject a dark cloud of ink.
Generally blue-green, the Caribbean reef octopus can change colors to blend into the reef. It generally uses its tentacles to propel through the water, but it can also crawl along the ground. Like the squid, the reef octopus can eject ink for protection.
The cuttlefish is one of the most photographed mollusks of the Caribbean. It is brightly colored with yellow and purple, but it can change colors and patterns. The cuttlefish has eight blade-like arms with tentacle suckers that help it capture food and move around. The cuttlefish can also eject ink for protection.

Article Written By Susan Roberts

Susan Roberts has more than 15 years of marketing, business and technical writing experience. Her business writing has appeared in online trade publications such as TechWeb and ComputerWorld. In 2009 she began publishing online articles in categories including healthy living, family and food and wine. Roberts has a Bachelor of Arts in technical writing/mass communication from Texas Tech University.

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