Meet fiji’s most interesting reef creatures
The South Pacific Ocean is home to a menagerie of sea life, great and small. Here in Fiji we have loads of interesting marine creatures living amid our amazing coral reefs.
Follow our lead to discover more about the fascinating creatures that make up our thriving reef eco-systems.
The rainbow coloured parrotfish is one of the most beautiful creatures you’ll meet on the reef. They’re called parrotfish because of their fused teeth that resemble a bird’s beak. What makes this fish so interesting is the important role that they play in contributing to Fiji’s beautiful beaches. They continually nibble on the algae covered corals and pass out the remains in small granules of sand. It’s nature’s answer to responsible waste management and helps maintain our beautiful white beaches in the process.
Sea turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world and have an incredibly long lifespan so it’s always a highlight to see them in the wild. Five of the world’s seven turtle species are found in Fijian waters. The most common ones you’ll encounter while snorkelling here are the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill turtle which inhabit the seagrass beds and reefs respectively.
In Fiji, turtles are a totem animal for some island tribes and all turtles are protected under Fijian law. If you’re at the Kula Wild Adventure Park in the Coral Coast or at select resorts in the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands, see if you view their turtle sanctuaries and possibly participate in releasing some of these fascinating creatures back into the wild.
Fiji and the wider Polynesian culture are known for using an empty triton shell as a sounding instrument in ceremonial duties. A trumpet like call echoes throughout the villages to signal community gatherings, warnings and other culturally significant meetings. Their impressive shape is instantly recognized worldwide as a symbol of the Pacific. The triton shell is the home of a large sea snail that feeds on the invasive ‘Crown of Thorns’ starfish. The triton snail is protected under Fijian Fisheries law and shells cannot be sold in Fiji or taken out of the country. These beautiful shells are incredibly rare so it is pretty special if you see one on the reef.
You can find Nemo for real in Fiji. This cute and inquisitive clownfish species is almost always swimming near the swaying tentacles of sea anemones on the reef. This is because the anemone’s tentacles sting and protect clownfish from larger predators. Fun fact: clownfish are always born male? They only change to female to breed. Clownfish are very social and hang out in groups led by a dominant male. He keeps the best food for himself, which in turn keeps the squads body size smaller by comparison. Clownfish chat to each other with popping and clicking sounds and their distinctive colours help lure in prey for their sea anemone to eat.
Giant clams are really fascinating. Particularly when you see them snorkelling at close range. These gorgeous clams are the largest mollusk on earth and their enormous proportions can reach up to 4ft in length! Don’t believe the fabled stories; giant clams are filter feeders and can’t eat humans. The clam moves far too slowly and is much more likely to make an inward retreat if threatened. Clams are a threatened species and it’s always a thrill to see one dwelling on the ocean floor when you’re snorkelling out on the reef.
The nudibranch is a soft-bodied mollusc that sheds its shell after the larvae stage. Hence, their ‘nudie’ name. What makes them extra eye-catching is their bright colour schemes. Think hot pinks, shimmering jade greens, royal violet hues and sunburst yellows. Once you know what they look like, they’re easy to identify. Nudibranchs are mostly found in the intertidal depths, but you can spot their radical colours almost anywhere within the reefs of Fiji.
Considering that Fiji has been called the soft coral capital of the world, it would be sacrilege to not include this enthralling collection of coral species in our list of interesting reef critters. The nutrient rich waters in Fiji create the perfect ecosystem for the stunningly colourful soft corals to breed. While snorkelling keep an eye out for bright hued coral fans, soft spaghetti corals swaying in gentle currents and the green and gold finger leather corals.
Guided snorkelling is encouraged for better understanding of different corals within view.
Remember to pack sunscreen and snorkelling gear.