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Clownfish, made popular in the film Finding Nemo, are one of the stars of the coral reef. Their multicolored body, clumsy way of swimming and their relations with sea anemones all make them one of the most pleasant fish to observe and take photos of. Some thirty species, with their highly precise living areas, populate the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea. Check out our top 12 snorkeling spots to go snorkeling with clownfish.
This tiny island located north of Sulawesi, entirely fringed by coral reefs, offers fabulous drop-offs where 5 species of clownfish can easily be seen, in less than 6 feet of water. It includes the Spinecheek anemonefish (premnas biaculeatus), the biggest clownfish species (females can grow up to 17 centimeters).
Many Red Sea clownfish inhabit Ras Um Sid’s reef drop off, in Sharm el-Sheikh. Some of them have taken up residence in their sea anemones in less than 2 feet (0.5m) of water, and are always ready to have their photo taken! Red Sea clownfish can be observed in many spots on the Red Sea coastline of Egypt, especially at Dahab’s Blue Hole.
Snorkel the shallow, rocky waters off Furuzamami Beach on the east coast of Zamami, one of the Kerama Islands, and you’ll swear you’re in the clownfish paradise. Several species, which most commons are tomato clownfish, Clark anemonefish and pink skunk clownfish inhabits the sea anemones which covers the sea beds of this stunning beach.
Clownfish watching is easy in all Okinawa islands, for example at Aharen Beach.
In Nang Yuan Island, a few minutes away from Ko Tao by boat, you are sure to have an encounter with pink skunk clownfish. You will find big green and purple sea anemones covering the seabed, in less than two meters of water.
You can see clownfish in almost all the spots near Ko Tao: Shark Bay (even though visitors usually come to see the sharks) is a good option.
The Maldives atolls are the home of exceptional underwater life, and are the ideal place for snorkelers to watch clownfish. For example, you can head for the Velidhu atoll, where, on the outer face of the reef, it is easy to come across two colorful species, the Maldive anemonefish and Allard’s anemonefish.
When snorkeling Motu Mofetaro, in Raiatea’s lagoon, you will for sure have a stop on the first coral outcrops located 20 to 30m from the beach. This area is populated by orangefin anemonefish (amphiprion chrysopterus), the only species of clownfish found in French Polynesia. Present in colonies of dozens of individuals, they usually share their anemones with juveniles domino damsels (dascyllus trimaculatus).
Bamboo Island, located approximately 3 miles (5km) off the northern tip of Koh Phi Phi, is home to the ocellaris clownfish -or three-banded clownfish- (amphiprion ocellaris), better known as “Nemo” in Disney-Pixar movie. You will find them on the sea anemones that lives on the reef in places, 2 to 3 meters deep.
Do you feel like swimming with dozens of clownfish, in a few meters of water and above a spectacular reef drop-off? Then head for Aqaba, on the Jordan coast of the Red Sea, where two-banded clownfish, which are endemic to the region, can be seen in abundance.
A few yards from Ilots Choizil, in the Mayotte’s lagoon, several colonies of skunk clownfish have made their home 4 to 6m deep. You will have no trouble identifying their impressive sea anemones from the surface and paying the fish a visit with a few strokes of your swim fins.
To see clownfish in Mayotte, you can also try your luck in N’Gouja, where you will sometimes come across Madagascar anemonefish in the reef drop-off.
By exploring the magnificent Pulau Menjangan reef drop-off, a few minutes by boat from Bali, you will surely see doubt towering sea anemones. Come closer: each one is inhabited by a couple of ocellaris clownfish (amphiprion ocellaris), with orange and white dress, which rarely go away from the tentacles of their host.
To meet clownfish in Guam, you will have to swim the 400 yards separating the stunning beach of Tumon and the reef. But once you’ll be over the drop-off, you’ll understand it well worth the effort. Large groups of sea anemones, hosting dozens of tomato clownfish, inhabits the coral reef at this point.
The natural sanctuary of Denis Island, planted with coconut, takamaka and casuarina trees, and fringed by white sand beaches, has a taste of paradise. It is one of the only site in the granitic bank of the Seychelles where you can encounter clownfish while snorkeling, this species being pretty rare in the archipelago.