Barbados is endowed with a healthy and vibrantly colored coral reef system with various hard and soft coral formations; the surrounding waters host a plethora of sea creatures and colorful fish life.
When visiting the island, scuba divers can expect abundant sea life.
Schools of small to medium-sized tropical fish include:
— Angel and butterfly fish
— Blue Chromis
— Black durgeon
— Spotted drum
Rare finds include:
— Delightful sea horses
— brightly colored frogfish
Larger species found in the northwest are:
For crustacean enthusiasts, a night dive will amuse and amaze you. During the day such creatures are hard to spot during the day as they often hide at the back of holes or under rocks. As the sun sets, crab and lobster exit their well-hidden haunts to scavenge and feed off the ocean floor.
Many of the reefs are divided by deep sand channels. While there might not be a lot of coral to see in the media, keep an eye out for stingrays which often lie partially buried and camouflaged by the sand.
Southern sting and spotted eagle rays are commonly seen, with the occasional manta sighting, which is a real treat. While generally unconcerned by divers, stay a reasonable distance away and never swim above the rays to avoid being hit by their venomous tail spine.
For more experienced divers, shark sightings usually occur around the eastern and northern parts of the island in the colder Atlantic Sea waters.
During the day, sharks are generally found further out to sea; however, they are known to come closer to shore for night feeding. Nurse sharks are sometimes seen around Tropicana, a fringing reef running along the west coast and almost unheard of in the southern waters.
For the more slippery variety, rocks and crevices are home to several types of moray eel, such as the spotted and the reticulate moray.
Gold-spotted or broadband eels can be found curled along the sand or underneath rocky patches like a common garter snake. Smaller varieties – such as the garden eel – are in abundance. Look for them peeping out of the sandy bottom like individual blades of grass when diving into shallow waters. Garden eels are shy creatures that quickly retreat into the sand upon approach.
Not to be missed are the teams of gentle hawksbill turtles that are present year-round. Leatherback and green turtles also visit Barbados’ waters. However, sightings are less frequent.
Many of the turtles around the island are tagged and monitored through the Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP). The BSTP exists to conserve and protect the local turtle population through various activities and programs.
For an almost guaranteed turtle sighting, visit ‘The Boot,’ a famous southern reef dive at 50 to 130 ft.
Friars Craig – another popular south coast dive location lying at a depth of 45 ft – is also a well-known turtle-spotting area. Friars Craig has situated northwest of Asta Reef along a sandy channel. On certain days, up to a dozen or more turtles have been known to linger around the fragmented wreck.