If you have seen Nemo’s World, when you dive in, you will surely be tempted to say: “Oh, there’s a Nemo, and there’s a Dory! “. But do you know the real names of these different species?
Bali and Indonesia are famous for their great diversity of underwater fauna, with more than 300’000 species living under the surface, that represents 17% of the world’s underwater fauna. It’s time to recognize the top 10 of these waters and shine during your next snorkeling or diving sessions!
1. The Manta Ray
At the top of the list is this majestic species, which every diver is almost guaranteed to see on a trip to Nusa Penida.
When we see it, we rather have the impression to see it flying with these big wing-like fins, black above and white below. And knowing that it can reach up to seven meters of wingspan, diving with these gentle giants is an extraordinary experience! And no need to go deep, they can also be observed by snorkeling.
More info on our post dedicated to Manta Rays.
2. The parrot fish
We give this name to this fish because of a very specific attribute: its beak-like mouth, which reminds us of its feathered cousin. It uses it to scrape corals and algae and after ingestion, it transforms them into sand that will create beautiful sandy beaches!
3. The ribbon moray
It owes its name to its long shape and its undulating movements. Did you know that it changes gender during its life? We can notice it by its colors: when the black turns into blue, the moray becomes male. The change from blue to yellow is due to the change from male to female gender.
The moray eel is perhaps more difficult to notice because it is mostly hidden in holes or cracks. But when it changes habitat, this is the perfect moment to observe its so particular swimming. Your best chances to observe it are in Amed and Tulamben in shallow water.
4. The Sunfish
More commonly called Mola Mola. This fish can reach impressive sizes (2mx3m for 1000 kilos, or more) and has a particular ovoid shape: it has no tail and its fins are only pectoral and dorsal. This fish never stops growing until it dies, so it is easy to distinguish which ones have been swimming in these waters for several years! To observe them, prefer sites in Nusa Penida and come during the season from July to October.
More information on our post dedicated to mola mola.
5. The Antennae
Does this fish remind you of another animal? No wonder, it is also called frogfish. But it is more like a chameleon when it comes to taking the color of its environment to camouflage itself from its 20 centimeters height. It is often found on the ground, where it can be seen “walking” on its pectoral fins. The best sites for its observation are Tulamben and the wreck of the USS Liberty, as well as the site of Gilimanuk.
6. The Clownfish
The famous fish that every novice wants to observe after seeing Finding Nemo.
As in the cartoon, it is often found in sea anemones that it cleans of all parasites in exchange for their protection. Indeed, it is immune to the venom of its host unlike other fish.
7. The Triggerfish
As its name indicates, this fish can become aggressive at any moment, especially when protecting its territory. It can be found everywhere, so if you see one near you, don’t try to get any closer, or you might end up with a souvenir bite from your trip to Indonesia.
It is best recognized by its dorsal spines and big, hostile teeth in its mouth.
8. The Surgeon Fish
Another Finding Nemo classic that stole our hearts, meet Dory a.k.a. the blue surgeon fish.
On each side of their tails are sharp blades, “scalpels”, which give them their name. These natural defenses are mostly used during fights between males.
It is generally a species that stays towards the bottom and close to the coral reefs.
9. The Mandarin fish
This is one of the most colorful fish in Southeast Asia. The name of this fish refers to the very colorful silks worn by the Chinese leaders from the 16th century.
To see it, go to the northwest of Bali in the bay of Pemuteran and do a dive at sunset, its favorite time to come out of its hiding place.
10. The Lionfish
If you see this fish, don’t touch it! The lionfish is not only a fearsome invasive predator in its biotope that can also be dangerous for humans if they touch it. It has 18 spiny rays on its dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins, each with a pair of venom glands. When they come into contact with a predator, they secrete a neuromuscular toxin into the victim’s body.
Fortunately for us, although the sting can cause intense pain, the venom is thermolabile, meaning that its effects can be suppressed by heat (>60°C).
Of course, there are many more species in Balinese waters than those listed here (such as sharks, barracudas, or turtles). That’s why you should plan a few days to discover the beautiful snorkeling and diving sites during your next stay on the Island of the Gods!