Over 1,000 species! A fish paradise that stands out among the world’s oceans

Japan’s rich seas are home to an incredible 3,700 of the approximately 15,000 species of fish on earth.
Okinawa itself is habitat to over 1,000 species of fish, ranging from small to large. Many creatures popular among divers are packed into these waters.
Among Okinawa’s aquatic life are the smaller creatures referred to as “macro.” With its abundance of different habitats, Okinawa is home to a variety of such organisms.

Also, Okinawa has many colorful fish (as you would expect of a tropical island), making it a popular destination for divers with an interest in photography.
Here are some ways you can enjoy Okinawa’s popular macro creatures and fish watching.

The famous ocellaris clownfish, known lovingly as “Nemo”
You can see all six species of clownfish! All of Japan’s six species of clownfish can be seen in Okinawa’s waters.
In addition to their distinctive and easily recognizable bodies, clownfish almost always live together with sea anemones, making their observation relatively easy.
As such, we recommend that beginning fish watchers start with clownfish. Come to Okinawa and try to find all six species!

A juvenile lyretail hogfish with gorgeous markings
Cute, colorful babies Adult fish have a completely different appearance than their juvenile counterparts, often becoming very plain as they get older.
It’s fun to look up the age differences in a guide book and then compare them in real life. Spawning season is from spring (when the water temperature rises) to early summer. Check out these super flamboyant and colorful baby fish (juveniles)!
Fish watching is twice as fun when you know what habitat to search in! With Okinawa’s abundance of different habits, you can see a plethora of macro creatures. However, if you’re looking for something in particular, it’s important that you know that animal’s habitat and know it well.
If you check the creature’s habitat in a guidebook, you’ll have a better chance of finding it in the water! Plus, it’s just more fun finding that macro creature by yourself.

Now let’s take a look at some different habitats and the popular sea creatures found in each.

Poking its face out from holes in rock walls is the popular red-spotted blenny. With skin flaps resembling nose hairs, the blenny’s odd face has made it extremely popular.

Look closely at the surface of coral and within the holes you’ll see coral hermit crabs.
These little guys lie motionless against a lovely background, earning them a spot as one of Okinawa’s most popular macro creatures.

Gobies, the darlings of the sandy ocean bottom. Okinawa’s waters are filled with black-ray goby (pictured), orange-striped shrimpgoby, elegant firefish, and other popular sand-dwelling gobies.
Known for living in a burrow alongside a shrimp, the goby hovers and keeps watch while its shrimp companion digs ceaselessly—a scene that is fascinating to observe.
If a diver approaches, the goby will use its tail fin to alert the shrimp of danger, and will itself quickly retreat into the burrow. Photo enthusiasts must determine how to approach the goby without causing it to retreat if they wish to snap a good shot.

Swimming the steady currents of rocky reefs and the midway down the drop offs are the anthias. Colorful and diverse, these fish are popular subjects for photo enthusiasts.

Peer inside an empty can or bottle and you may find a Dinah’s goby.
This fish will turn anything into a home, embodying the robustness of living creatures.
Can you spot the fish?? Mimesis Some aquatic organisms blend into their surroundings for protection from invaders. Seeing through this “mimesis” is one of the joys of macro fish watching.

Some creatures even carry their disguises with them….

A pygmy seahorse wraps its tail around a sea fan, becoming one with it.
From its color to the bumps on its body, the seahorse really appears to be part of the sea fan. Finding this creature takes perseverance.

Dromidiopsis lethrinusae wears a sea squirt like a hat for camouflage. It is suitably known in Japanese as the “snow spirit hat crab.”
This tiny crab’s adorable appearance makes it extremely popular among women. At first glance it appears to be nothing more than a sea squirt, making it very difficult to find.

A yellowtail clownfish delivers fresh water to its eggs, encouraging their growth
Marvel at the drama of life! Ecology From battling over female mates to spawning, brooding, and hatching, the series of activities that revolve around life is mysterious and utterly fascinating.
Don’t miss such moving moments in fish life as the release of sperm into the water, the diligent guarding of eggs, and the hatching of babies from eggs.

Yet another way to enjoy macro diving … These creatures are known as “smiling sea squirts” due to the resemblance of their markings to human smiles.
Their happiness is contagious! Look at them long enough and you, too, will find yourself smiling.

There are countless more macro creatures in the water and countless more ways to enjoy macro diving. Grab a camera and come to Okinawa to meet your favorite macro creatures!

Look for other Macro point

Photo by Takaji Ochi

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