Explorers who dare to dip their faces beneath the glittering azure waters surrounding the Florida keys are in for a treat that simply can not be replicated on dry land. A snorkeling excursion in Key West is akin to a trip to paradise. The typically warm, clear waters around Key West teem with aquatic life, including a great variety of school fish in a myriad of brilliant colors.
When snorkeling in Key West, the Blue Tang is one species of reef fish that is easily recognized by both young and old. Made popular by a Disney film set in the undersea world, these small, disc-shaped fish appear blue or purple, and they can often be spotted leisurely snacking on the algae that grows on the reef. Although encountering a grazing school of Blue Tangs is undoubtedly thrilling for Key West snorkelers, the feeding habits of these fish are also important to the life of the reef itself.
The large groups of Blue Tangs that delight underwater explorers contribute to the health of the reef by keeping it clean. As the Florida Keys are part of North America's sole living coral reef, these fish are an important part of the ecosystem of this acclaimed diving destination.
Blue Tangs are members of the surgeonfish family, and each sports a small sharp yellow spike, which is reminiscent of a scalpel, where the body and tail meet. This offers Blue Tangs some protection from predators, who find it difficult to swallow them. Regardless, these fish do hide from predators at night, taking refuge among crevices in the reef.
To the delight of snorkelers, Blue Tangs are active during the day and can be found at depths between two and 40 meters. Observing this beautiful tropical fish in its natural habitat is one of the many splendors that makes snorkeling in Key West a not-to-be-missed activity.