Manzanillo's Underwater Inhabitants
By Mother Ocean

Juvenile King Angel & Red Hawkfish in hard coral

Please click on photos to enlarge

The striking beauty and the myriad of colorful marine life off Manzanillo's rocky shoreline make for memorable encounters--especially to new divers and snorkelers taking their first experience into the underwater world. I know. I created it all.

The sides of small bays and coves, such as Playa de Audiencia, offer the novice or advanced diver or snorkeler many hours of observing sea life so remarkable it mesmerizes the observer. Here is one of my most unusual and beautiful inhabitants. Spotted Sharpnose Puffer & Red Hawkfish

The Angelfish
Curious, Territorial and Graceful

Angelfish general shape The angelfishes' brilliant color patterns and expressive eye movements are indeed captivating. Their stately poise, graceful movements, and unabashed curiosity make them quite memorable.

There are a total of 74 angelfish species found in tropical waters around the world, but only two species can be found locally.

 Angelfish have a very distinctive appearance, quite different from other fish. Their bodies are very thin, yet tall, their profile rounded, almost disc-shaped, perhaps better described as pie plates standing on edge. Angelfish have very pretty faces. The mouth is small, the lips pronounced, and the nose upturned. They are the beauty queens of the coral reef. Up-close-and-personal with King Angels
King Angels cleaning boat bottom The regal appearance of angelfish is punctuated by an extraordinary arrangement of fins. Large, long dorsal fins sweep backward to the end of the body. The tail has a handsome, fan-shaped design. Their eyes are positioned well forward on the body providing angelfish with binocular vision similar to that of humans. The eyes are very expressive as they rotate in their sockets, watching divers' movements.
Angelfish are best known for their dazzling color patterns. The Cortez Angelfish has a gray-black mottled body with black and yellow bands on the head. They love to swim around the reefs--usually solitary--but sometimes in pairs. Both juveniles and adults clean parasites and debris from larger fishes. Adult Cortez Angel
Juvenile Angel Juveniles appear to be a totally different species with their 6 bright yellow bands curving from snout to tail, and brilliant blue stripes on a black body. The Cortez angelfish can be found along the rocky shores in depths of five to twenty feet. Though the adults are relatively unconcerned and often appear curious, the juveniles hide in the coral heads and are very elusive.
The king angelfish has a yellow tail and a vertical white bar on the sides just behind the origin of the pectoral fin. Juveniles have more yellow on the body and yellow pelvic fins. The white stripe is still distinctive. This species also prefers shallow areas. In two locations that can only be reached by boat, we have watched the schools of king angels grow until there are now more than 100. Snorkelers can get in the water around the king angels and feed them, as long as your approach in slow and non-threatening. A beautiful animal

Enjoy your little sightseeing trips in my ocean here in Manzanillo, but please try not to stand on the reefs or rocks. (There are lots of little tiny animals that make their homes on my rocks, and some of the coral heads are thousands of years old! For you to step on them is the equivalent of Godzilla putting his foot on your house!) 

For more information on my marvelous Pacific Ocean creatures, e-mail: or visit my friends at Underworld Scuba - Scuba Shack, the number one full service dive shop in the state of Colima.

For more information on scuba diving and snorkeling in Manzanillo, all the beaches and locations to enjoy underwater life, see the 150-page tourist guidebook, "Manzanillo and the state of Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips," by Susan Dearing.