Scuba diver swims through a school of beautiful tropical fish
Scuba diving opens a door to a world of beautiful colours and sights. The marine life is indescribably gorgeous and fascinating. This scuba diver was exploring a very popular dive site in Belize, known as Hol Chan. Literally translated, this means small channel. The reef is split in this area, allowing the current, as well as the marine animals to come and go from the open ocean into the sheltered area on the inside of the coral reef. Depending on the tide, the flow of the current here goes both out and in. It is a strong current and scuba divers find that this can be a challenging swim.
But the abundance of marine life make it a worthwhile effort. These fish are yellow striped grunts. They are a common fish here and they school in large numbers, often referred to as a "bait ball" or "bait fish ball". To swim slowly through them as they part and move calmly away creates a beautiful effect.
As beautiful as they are, these fish actually have another purpose on the reef. They provide a steady supply of food for eels, octopus, large fish, and even sharks. This is part of the reason that they school so closely together. Their stripes and patterns create a confusing mass of fish, making it difficult for a predator to single out one for an attack. Using the bait ball as protection, they constantly move in and around the other fish.
Schooling fish like these are an important part of the delicate balance here on the reef.