Juvenile rock beauty: Holacanthus tricolor

A handful of Pura Vida divers headed out to do a REEF Fish Count in West Palm Beach, FL. As a certified REEF Field Station, in partnership with Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), we have begun doing reef fish counts every week in West Palm Beach, Florida to help catalog the amazing diversity of fish life that we can find on our reefs and wrecks.

These special REEF Fish Count dives are enjoyable and educational. They bring to light just how many more species of fish live on our reefs than what we imagine. Plus, it sharpens our reef fish identification skills in the process. If you happen to be carrying an underwater camera along with you as I was, it also hones your photographic skills with the added bonus of some good photo keepers, too!

We began our REEF Fish Count dives on Hammerhead reef. This deep reef in the 90 foot range has a gorgeous reef ledge. Fish life abounds and we were quickly counting all the numerous species of reef fish we encountered. The highlight of this dive was a very unique and, unfortunately, exotic fish that is not normally seen on our reefs. In fact, it was the first time I had ever seen this species out here. A gorgeous emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) was swimming underneath the reef ledge for a few minutes before it scurried away. This species of fish is native to the Indian and Pacific Ocean, but like so many other exotic species, they have been introduced into the Atlantic Ocean.

Our second dive on Spanish Anchor reef provided numerous more marine life encounters. One of my personal favorite is the smallest of the angelfish in our area, the cherubfish (Centropyge argi). These gorgeous little purple and orange fish can be seen darting in and out of the reef crevices.

By the time we had finished our two REEF Fish Counts for the day we had identified over 50 different species of fish; this does not include the abundance of each species. Here are just a few of the beautiful reef we encountered on our dives.

Want to join us on a REEF Fish Count dive? Dive with Pura Vida Divers on Sunday afternoon and join us in the fun and education!

Special thanks to captain Van at Narcosis Dive Charters for taking us out diving while Sirena was in the boat yard.