Like many other reef animals, magnificent feather dusters resemble plants. The feather-like structures are actually the gills of a worm that lives in a tube below. The "feathers" also function as filters that are used to capture food as it floats by.
A small goby moves over the surface of a great star coral.The color of corals results from small algae that live inside the coral's tissue. These algae, called zooxanthellae, use sunlight to make sugars that the algae exchange with their coral host for other nutrients.
A starfish moves along the bottom of a sandy bay entrance that connects the reef to areas dominated by seagrass fields and mangroves. These inland bays are important "nursery habitats" for many fish species found on the reef.
Reef squid engage in a "romantic" dance. The squid seduces future mates through a series of mesmerizing color changes. Males often change color only on the part of their body facing a female, to conceal their amorous intentions from potential competitors.
Despite their beauty, these orange cup corals are the only invasive corals in the Caribbean. They were first reported in the Netherlands Antilles in 1943, and probably arrived on the hull of a ship coming from the Pacific, where this species occurs naturally.
For this group of juvenile grunts, brain corals provide shelter against predators. Small fish like these start their life offshore. After some time, they move in from the open ocean, "invading" the reef where they will grow and reproduce.
Fields of gorgonians are often found in sandy areas with strong water currents. They provide shelter for a variety of reef organisms. Gorgonians have a flexible skeleton that allows them to move back and forth in the currents.