Coral Reef Animals

Underneath the ocean waters, coral reefs are home to various sea creatures – earning them the name “rainforests of the sea”. These include clams, corals, fish, sea turtles, sponges, etc. The reefs are generally built of stony corals held together by calcium carbonate. Notable coral reef ecosystems include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Belize Barrier Reef off the Caribbean coast, and the Tubbataha Reefs in the Philippines.

In recent times, these habitats are threatened by various human activities like destructive fishing practices, disease, global climate change, ship groundings, and water pollution.

Coral Reef Animals

List of Animals that live in Coral Reefs

Mammals

  • Dugong

Reptiles

  • Flatback Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Hawksbill Sea Turtle
  • Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle
  • Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Fish

  • African Lionfish
  • Banded Lionfish
  • Banded Pipefish
  • Bartlett’s Anthias
  • Bentfin Devil Ray
  • Bicolour Parrotfish
  • Blacktip Reef Shark
  • Blue Parrotfish
  • Blue Tang
  • Broadclub Cuttlefish
  • Caribbean Reef Shark
  • Chilean Devil Ray
  • Clarke’s Anemonefish
  • Clearfin Lionfish
  • Common Lionfish
  • Copperband Butterflyfish
  • Devilfish
  • Dragon Moray Eel
  • Flamboyant Cuttlefish
  • Giant Moray Eel
  • Giant Oceanic Manta Ray
  • Green Humphead Parrotfish
  • Green Moray Eel
  • Hairy Frogfish
  • Harlequin Tuskfish
  • Humphead Wrasse
  • Indian Mud Moray Eel
  • Leafy Seadragon
  • Lesser Devil Ray
  • Longnose Butterflyfish
  • Mandarinfish
  • Marbled Parrotfish
  • Maroon Clownfish
  • Moorish Idol
  • Munk’s Devil Ray
  • Ocellaris Clownfish
  • Orange Clownfish
  • Oriental Butterflyfish
  • Pearlscale Butterflyfish
  • Pennant Coralfish
  • Pharaoh Cuttlefish
  • Potato Grouper
  • Princess Parrotfish
  • Raccoon Butterflyfish
  • Rainbow Parrotfish
  • Red Lionfish
  • Reef Manta Ray
  • Saddleback Butterflyfish
  • Schooling Bannerfish
  • Shortfin Devil Ray
  • Snowflake Moray Eel
  • Squarespot
  • Stoplight Parrotfish
  • Sunburst Butterflyfish
  • Threadfin Butterflyfish
  • Turkey Moray Eel
  • Vagabond Butterflyfish
  • Whitetip Reef Shark
  • Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish
  • Yellow Tang
  • Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish
  • Yellow-edged Moray Eel
  • Yellow-headed Jawfish
  • Zebra Moray
  • Zebra Shark

Invertebrates

  • Bamboo Coral
  • Big Blue Octopus
  • Bigfin Reef Squid
  • Black Sea Rod
  • Blue Sea Star
  • Blue-lined Octopus
  • Brain Coral
  • Beadlet Anemone
  • Bubble-tip Anemone
  • Carpet Anemone
  • Caribbean Reef Octopus
  • Christmas Tree Worm
  • Common Starfish
  • Crown-of-thorns Starfish
  • Day Octopus
  • Dead Man’s Fingers
  • Giant Clam
  • Giant Green Anemone
  • Greater Blue-ringed Octopus
  • Harlequin Shrimp
  • Moon Jellyfish
  • Octopus Coral
  • Organ Pipe Coral
  • Pacific Purple Sea Urchin
  • Precious Coral
  • Queen Conch
  • Red Sea Urchin
  • Sand Dollar
  • Southern Blue-ringed Octopus
  • Staghorn Coral
  • Stove Pipe Sponge
  • Sunflower Sea Star
  • Zooplankton

Adaptations

  • Many fish living in the coral reefs are small and flat to quickly flee inside the various crevices throughout the structure. Examples include various species of clownfish and moray eels.
  • Most of the animals in a coral reef biome are brightly colored. The colors may discourage predators as they indicate that the targeted prey is poisonous while also serving as effective camouflage against the coral reef backdrop.
  • Several animals have a symbiotic relationship with one another. For instance, clownfish have immunity to the venom of the sea anemone, letting the fish live among their tentacles freely. In return, the clownfish feed on the parasites infesting the anemone, keeping it healthy.

FAQs

1. What is the dominant species of a coral reef?

The stony corals that make up the reef are the dominant animals forming a reef.

2. Are there endangered animals living in coral reefs?

Yes, dugongs and several species of turtles are considered endangered species.

3. Did any animals living in coral reefs go extinct?

The short-nosed sea snake was believed to have gone extinct, but in 2021 an extant population was discovered in Ashmore Reef. However, whether or not the discovered species is the same as the short-nosed sea snake has yet to be determined.