Welcome to the underwater world of small ocean animals – macro critters!
The underwater environment is full of surprises and the beauty of the marine life is a feast for the eyes. From vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish to majestic sea creatures that grace the deep waters, there’s no shortage of life to discover below the surface.
But for those with a keen eye for detail, there’s another type of marine life that’s just as captivating: macro creatures. These tiny and intricate creatures often go unnoticed by many divers, but for those who take the time to look closely, they are a true delight.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the fascinating world of underwater macro creatures that you might be able to spot on your dives in Playa del Carmen and the Rivera Maya.
So, whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out, grab your gear and join us on this adventure into the tiny but mighty world of macro creatures!
Macro Creatures: Small Ocean Animals found in Playa del Carmen
Christmas Tree Worm
Christmas tree worms are usually found on the surface of a larger boulder or brain corals. They are named due to their feathery appearance which looks like a Christmas tree.
These creatures are worms, and the main part of their body is embedded deep inside the coral the feathery parts that you see are their branchiae (their gills).
These worms are sensitive to changes in that environment and if a sudden change in their surroundings occurs, they will whizz back into their tubes for protection.
Feather Duster Worm
A feather duster worm, similar to the Christmas tree worm lives in a tube ground into the coral. That crown of feathery branchiae protrudes like a feather duster hence their amusing name.
The feathery style crown is usually a reddish brown in color with a lighter whiter middle section. They are also sensitive to change and will retreat into their holes if disturbed.
Flamingo Tongue Cowrie
These little sea creatures are often found on various corals such as the purple sea fans. They are usually a pinkish-white in color with orange spots that have a black outline.
Pederson cleaner shrimp are endemic to tropical Caribbean waters. They are clear in color with purple and blue markings. They have larger front claws which they use to clean other fish around them. This helps to rid fish of different parasites.
You have to look carefully if you want to spot one of these tiny, almost invisible, shrimp but once you start to recognize the type of locations on the reef where they hang out, you will spot them more and more frequently.
Arrow crabs have long thin bodies with extremely long thin legs full step they prefer to live on rock bottoms and coral reefs in shallower depths of up to around 10 meters.
They eat small worms and other reef invertebrates and are often found living in collaboration with different sea anemones.
You can often spot shells on the sea floor. Quite often they are empty, however, at times they are home to a hermit crab. These extremely shy creatures use shells as their home and place to hide from predators.
You can often spot if a shell is inhabited by a hermit crab as they will leave a little track on the sea floor behind it. Also, if you approach a hermit shell very carefully you may see its little legs and eyes popping out from underneath.
What’s interesting about hermit crabs is how they move their homes from shell to shell. As they outgrow an old shell, they look for a new bigger one. Hermit crabs come together in a great shell exchange to all switch shells at a similar moment.
If you are extremely lucky you may find a long snout seahorse on a dive. They like to live in the shallower reefs and can appear in different colors from yellow to reddish Browns to almost black.
This remarkable little creature anchors itself to its home in the reef by wrapping its tail around branches of seagrass or coral.
Underwater photography is a fantastic way to capture and share the beauty of marine life, and macro creatures are no exception.
Capturing the intricate details and vibrant colors of these tiny sea creatures can be a challenging but rewarding experience. To get the best results, it’s important to have the right equipment, including special lenses, and strobes or lights.
Additionally, paying attention to the background and the lighting conditions can help to create stunning and captivating images.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or just starting out, underwater macro photography is a great way to capture the beauty of the small ocean animals that call it home.
You can also expand on your photography skills by completing the underwater photography specialty course with DivePoint.
Dive with these Macro Animals in Playa del Carmen
There are a whole host of incredible dive sites in Playa del Carmen where these tiny marine creatures can be spotted.
Come with us at DivePoint Mexico to explore the reefs and we can show you where these small and intricate animals call their home!