There are thousands of fish species in the sea, but the list of those regularly encountered is significantly smaller, with many more generic species encountered in large swarms. The five fish described below represent the diversity present in the shallow and warm areas of our oceans and are most likely to be encountered by recreational users. In their differences, they illustrate the many forms life can take, even in a narrow band of ecosystem. Some are ocean roamers, while others are slow and stick close to the reef. Some are ugly, others very beautiful. Whether you are a fisherman, diver, snorkeler or kayaker, knowing these common ocean species can greatly enrich your experiences.
Thin, with many variations in color, angelfish are found in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, making them one of the more common reef fish. Corresponding with their sleek profile, angelfish have small pectoral fins.There are over 80 angelfish species, but all share common top and bottom fins that curve naturally into the angelfish's distinct shape.
Made famous by the character Flounder in "The Little Mermaid," the namesake isn't nearly as cute. Flounder are famous for having an eye on either side of their body at at birth, with one eye migrating to the other side as they age. In maturity, flounders rest on the bottom, blending with the sand.
This common fish is found all over the Atlantic. Seen individually and in schools, the jack is typically torpedo-shaped with yellow fins and a stripe running down its silver body. Jacks can grow up to three feet in length, making them a swift predator on the reef.
A common sight on coral reefs around the world--even in the Red Sea--parrotfish are known for being one of the few families of fish that consume the coral itself. With over 90 species, parrotfish come in all colors and sizes. They are easily identified by their sharp beaks. Their bright, diverse colors often include variations of blue or green.
Porcupinefish are easily distinguished by their round, balloon shape and ability to inflate their bodies with water to deter predators. Unlike pufferfish, with which they are often confused, porcupinefish have heavy spines that grant them a more intimidating appearance. Mottled brown in color, porcupinefish have large eyes and can grow to three feet. While interesting to see in the wild, porcupinefish contain a powerful neurotoxin that make them inedible, except when prepared by expert chefs.