PO Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
E-mail: font@focusonnature.com
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
 or 302/529-1876


eastern Mexico

the Yucatan Peninsula
and Cozumel Island

a list with Sea Turtles, Fish,
Corals, Jellyfish, Mollusks,
and Arthropods 

not with Whales, Dolphins, 
and the Manatee

including creatures of the coral reef
& some subterranean creatures
in water in caves of the Yucatan

A list compiled by Armas Hill

Noting those seen during Focus On Nature Tours
and pelagic trips with an (*)



BZ:   Belize
CZ:   Cozumel Island (where the Caribbean Sea & the Gulf of Mexico meet)
HN:   Honduras
MX:  Mexico, along the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts 
YP:   in the area of the Yucatan Peninsula, including coastal & offshore Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico waters 

(p): seen pelagically

Classifications as designated by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) relating to threatened species:
(t1):  critically endangered
(t2):  endangered
(t3):  vulnerable
(nt):  near-threatened  

(ph):  species with a photo in the FONT website 

Relating to Illustrations in Books: 

(ASC:xxx)    refers to plate numbers in the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Seashore Creatures"
(ATMF:xxx)  refers to plate number of photo in the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes"
(FGCF:xxx)  refers to page with an illustration in the book "A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes from Maine to Texas" by Val Kells & Kent Carpenter

Links, in the following list, to:

Sea Turtles     Fish     Corals    Jellyfish & Portuguese Man-of-war

MOLLUSKS (Shells):   GASTROPODS:    Conchs    Tulip Shells    Helmet Shells

Whelks and Crown Conchs    Volute    Cone Shells    Sea Hares

BIVALVES:   Purse Shells (incl. Tree Oysters)   Pen Shells    Clams (incl. Cockles)   Bean Clam


CEPHALOPODS:   Squids    Octopuses   

Horseshoe Crab    CRUSTACEANS  
Barnacles    Shrimps    Crabs   

Echinoderms:  Sea Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins

Some information is in this list about regional seafood specialties in the Yucatan & Belize,
shared with us by Chef David Sterling. For more info, click this link:  


An excellent new book has been published, in 2014, by David Sterling, entitled "Yucatan, Recipes from a Culinary Expedition". 
In this list, some references are made to award-winning book.

Other Links:

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Central America (including Mexico)

A Listing of scheduled Focus On Nature Tours    FONT Past Tour Highlights  

Mammals, including Marine Mammals, in:  Central America    Mexico

Directory of Photos in this Website


  1. Leatherback (Sea Turtle)  (t1) (ph)  ______  BZ  YP
    Dermochelys coriacea 
    (the single member of its genus)

    The Leatherback is the world's largest turtle. It can weigh half a ton. It is a deep diver. It can go to a depth of about 5,000 feet.

  2. Loggerhead (Sea Turtle) (t2) (ph)  ______  BZ  YP
    Caretta caretta 
    (the single ember of its genus)

    Loggerhead Sea Turtle
    (photo by Alan Brady during a FONT pelagic trip)

  3. Green (Sea) Turtle  (t2) (ph)  ______  BZ  YP
    Chelonia mydas

  4. Hawksbill (Sea Turtle)  (t1) (*) ______  BZ  YP
    Eretmochelys imbricata 
    (the single member of its genus)

    The Hawksbill (Sea Turtle) favors, among other places, coral reefs. It has a varied diet. 
    It has a long beak and two pairs of prefrontals.

  5. Kemp's Ridley (Sea) Turtle  (t1) ______  YP
    Lepidochelys kempii

    The Kemp's Ridley is said to be the world's rarest sea turtle". It is "critically endangered".

    An excellent book about Sea Turtles is "Voyage of the Turtle - In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur", by Carl Safina, Owl Books, published in 2007.   


    Click the above link for a list of Marine Fish of Belize & eastern Mexico: 361 species



    Most of the coral species in this list are "hard" corals. Others are "soft" corals and black corals

    Currently, there are about 66 hard corals known to occur in Belize. 54 of them are typical HERMATYPIC CORALS and 12 are AHERMATYPIC species. 

    A HERMATYPIC CORAL is a reef-building coral with symbiotic zooanthellae in the tissues. 
    The zooanthellae utilize carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce organic compounds which are absorbed by the coral as food. providing the overwhelming majority of nutrition need by the coral colony. 
    Corals which do not have zooanthellae are called AHERMATYPIC CORALS, and must rely on capturing prey with the stinging cells in their tentacles. 

    HYDROCORALS  (Class Hydrozoa) 

    FIRE CORALS  (Family Milleporidae)

  6. Branching Fire Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:25)
    Millepora alcicornis

    Millepora alcicornis is highly toxic. People touching it suffer a sever burning sensation and blistery rash.

  7. Blade Fire Coral  ______  BZ
    Millepora complanata

  8. Millepora striata  ______  BZ

    LACE CORALS  (Family Stylasteridae)

  9. Rose Lace Coral  ______  BZ
    Stylaster roseus

    STONY CORALS  (including Staghorn & Elkhorn Corals)  (Class Anthozoa, Order Scleractinia)

    Family Astroecoenidae

  10. Blushing Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Stephanocoenia michelini

    Family Pocilloporidae

  11. Ten-ray Finger Coral  ______  BZ
    Madracis decactis

  12. Eight-ray Finger Coral  ______  BZ
    Madracis formosa

  13. Encrusting Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Madracis luciphila 
    (or M. pharensis luciphila)

  14. Yellow Pencil Coral  ______  BZ
    Madracis mirabilis

  15. Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Madracis pharensis

    Family Acroporidae

  16. Staghorn Coral ______  BZ  (ASC:55)
    Acropora cervicornis

  17. Elkhorn Coral ______  BZ  (ASC:32)
    Acropora palmata

  18. Fused Staghorn  ______  BZ
    Acropora prolifera

    Family Agariciidae

  19. Lettuce Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:33)
    Agarica agaricites

  20. Fragile Saucer Coral  ______  BZ
    Agarica fragilis

  21. Lowrelief Lettuce Coral  ______  BZ
    Agaricia humilis

  22. Lamarck's Sheet Coral  ______  BZ
    Agaricia lamarcki

  23. Thin Leaf Lettuce Coral ______  BZ  
    Agaricia tenuifolia

  24. Scroll Coral  ______  BZ
    Agaricia undata

  25. Sunray Lettuce Coral  ______  BZ
    (or Helioceris) cucullata

    Family Siderastreidae

  26. Massive Starlet Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:14)
    Siderastrea siderea

  27. Lesser Starlet Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:16)
    Siderastrea radians

    Family Faviidae

  28. Cladocera arbuscula  ______  BZ

  29. Boulder Brain Coral  ______  BZ
    Colpophyllia natans
    (or breviserialis)

  30. Knobby Brain Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:4)
    Diploria clivosa

  31. Grooved Brain Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:3)
    Diploria labyrinthiformis

  32. Symmetrical Brain Coral  (ph)   ______  BZ  (ASC:2)  (has also been called Common or Smooth Brain Coral)
    Diploria strigosa

    Symmetrical Brain Coral

  33. Golfball Coral  ______  BZ
    Favia fragum

  34. Rose Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:175)
    Manicina areolata 

  35. Lobed Star Coral ______  BZ  (ASC:10)  (has also been called Boulder Star Coral or Common Star Coral)
    Montastrea annularis

  36. Great Star Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:11,174)  (has also been called Large Star Coral)
    Montastrea cavernosa

  37. Smooth Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Solenastrea bournoni

  38. Knobby Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Solenastrea hyades

    Family Poritidae

  39. Finger Coral ______  BZ  (ASC:13) 
    Porites porites

    Another name for Porites porites is Clubbed Finger Coral.

  40. Mustard Hill Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:9)
    Porites astreoides

  41. Honeycomb Plate Coral  ______  BZ
    Porites colonensis

  42. Blue Crust Coral  ______  BZ
    Porites branneri

    Family Rhizangidae

  43. Dwarf Cup Coral  ______  BZ
    Astragia solitaria

  44. Lesser Speckled Cup Coral  ______  BZ
    Colangia immersa

  45. Hidden Cup Coral  ______  BZ
    Phyllangia american

    Family Oculinidae 

  46. Caryophyllia ambrosia  ______  BZ

  47. Deltocyanthus agassizzi  ______  BZ

  48. Deltocyanthus moseleyi  ______  BZ

  49. Javenia cailleti  ______  BZ

  50. Diffuse Ivory Bush Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:35)
    Oculina diffusa

  51. Ivory Tree Coral  ______  BZ
    Oculina valenciennesi

  52. Large Ivory Coral  ______  BZ
    Oculina varicosa

    Family Caryophyllidae

  53. Smooth Flower Coral ______  BZ  (ASC:173,198)
    Eusmilia fastigiata 

  54. Baroque Cave Coral  ______  BZ
    Thalamophyllia riisei

    Family Meandrinidae

  55. Pillar Coral  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:6)
    Dendrogyra cylindrus


  56. Elliptical Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Dichocoenia stokesii

  57. Maze Coral  ______  BZ
    Meandrina meandrites

    Family Mussidae

  58. Rough Star Coral  ______  BZ
    Isophyllastrea rigida

  59. Sinuous Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Isophyllia sinuosa 

  60. Large Flower Coral  ______  BZ  (ASC:1)
    Mussa angulosa 

  61. Artichoce Coral  ______  BZ
    (or Scolymia) cubensis

  62. Spiny Flower Coral  ______  BZ
    (or Scolymia) lacera

  63. Knobby Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Mycetophyllia aliciae

  64. Lowridge Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Mycetophyllia danaana

  65. Rough Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Mycetophyllia ferox

  66. Ridged Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Mycetophyllia lamarckiana

  67. Ridgeless Cactus Coral  ______  BZ
    Mycetophyllia reesii 

    Subclass Octocorallia:  including Sea Fans 

  68. Corky Sea Fingers  ______  (ASC:68)
    Briareum asbestinum

  69. Sea Plumes  ______  (ASC:60,66)
    Pseudopterogorgata spp.

  70. Sea Fans ______  BZ  (ASC:64)  (soft coral gorgonians)
    Gorgonia ssp.  (G. ventalina: Common Sea Fan)

  71. Yellow Sea Whip  ______  (ASC:60,66)
    Pterogorgia citrina

  72. Spiny Muricea  ______  (ASC:61)
    Muricea muricata

  73. Eunicea Sea Rods  ______  (ASC:56)
    Eunicea spp.

  74. Double-forked Plexaurella  ______  (ASC:58)
    Plexaurella dichotoma

    JELLYFISH  (Class Scyphozoa)

  75. Moon Jellyfish  (ph)  (*)  ______  BZ  (ASC:502)
    Aurelia aurita

    Aurelia aurita is the jellyfish most commonly washed up on beaches during high tide or after a storm. It is up to 6 inches in diameter.

    The Moon Jellyfish is mildly toxic. Its sting causes a slight rash that may itch for several hours.

    Moon Jellyfish
    Above on a beach; below in the water.

  76. Upside-down Jellyfish  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:509) 
    Cassiopeia xamachana

    A local Spanish name for Cassiopeia xamachana is "sombra pica", meaning "stinging shade".

    The adult Upside-down Jellyfish is usually seen upside down on the bottom, in semi-stagnant water. In Belize, it is found in a few parts of the San Pedro Lagoon.
    The tentacles are pronounced and frilly and contain thousands of zooxanthellae. Sometimes many of these jellyfish are seen together.
    Although the adults are primarily sedentary, the young may be rarely seen offshore in outlying atoll lagoons actively swimming about. The adult is up to 8 inches in diameter.      

    Upside-down Jellyfish

  77. Crown Jellyfish  ______  YP  (ASC:503)
    Nausithoe punctata

  78. Purple Jellyfish  ______  (ASC:508)
    Pelagica noctiluca

  79. Cannonball Jellyfish  ______  (ASC:507,514)
    Stomolophus meleagris

  80. Sea Thimbles  ______  YP
    Linuche unguiculata

    Sea Thimbles are small jellyfish. They are transparent with rows of brown lines and dots that make them visible. They have very small tentacles.

    Sea Thimbles occur in masses that sometimes number in the millions. They are blown ashore at various times of the year, often due to shifts in ocean currents. Their sting is harmless to most people, but rarely some people are allergic to it.    

    One may hear the term "Sea Lice" along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, at beaches such as Cancun and Cozumel. 
    This tiny nuisance is actually the larvae of jellyfish, that of the Sea Thimble.
    At times, particularly from April through August, large numbers can cover whole beach areas. Sometimes local people use  a red flag system to notify beach-goers. 
    There are now several products on the market that neutralize the stings. While not 100% effective for all swimmers, they do help.
    The best treatment for jellyfish stings is prevention. Wearing water shoes is a good way to avoid stings on the beach and at rocky areas. In the water, small jellyfish are virtually invisible and they can be camouflaged around and among seaweed. 
    In addition to the above-mentioned "jellyfish lotion", locals believe that even oily sun tan lotion can deter stings. Tentacles stick to the skin, but the oil seems to help them slide away.          

  81. Caribbean Cubomedusae, or "Sea Wasps"  ______  YP
    Chiropsalmus spp.

    "Sea Wasps" are small, transparent jellyfish, about the size and shape of a small match box. They have one tentacle on each corner of their body.  
    The name "Cubomedusae" is due to the body shape (like a cube). The creature is related to the deadly Cubomedusae off Australia. Fortunately, the Caribbean variety is not deadly, but it will impart a strong sting.
    These animals usually live in deep water, but they rise to the surface in the daytime. They are not, however, very common. A snorkeler or diver is generally not likely to encounter these jellyfish.

    HYDROIDS  (Class Hydrozoa): not true jellyfish)

  82. Portuguese Man-of-war  (ph)  ______  BZ  MX  YP  (ASC:512,513)
    Physalia physalis

    The Portuguese Man-of-war is a common siphonophore occurring at the sea surface. Gas-filled, its clear blue float and pink crest are unmistakable. Its long, blue, coiled stinging tentacles are up to over 10 meters in length, hanging below a blue to purple-colored colony.   
    Also known by the name "bluebottles".
    The float is up to 30 centimeters long, and has a crest which acts as a sail. It is blown along by wind and carried by currents. Shows "tumbling" behavior when it dips each side alternately in the water, so keeping the float moist.
    Highly toxic. Can deliver a painful sting.
    The Bluebottlefish, Nomeus gronovii, is often found in association with Physalia.

    Portuguese Man-of-War

  83. Bougainvillia hydroids  ______  MX  (ASC:80)   Mexico, also West Indies, Bahamas, and along both North American Atlantic and Pacific coasts
    Bougainvillia spp.


    are made by MOLLUSKS

    MOLLUSKS are invertebrate animals that produce shells of one or two pieces that wholly or partially enclose a soft body.

    SHELLS are the skeletons of MOLLUSKS. Like the internal skeleton (endoskeleton) of a mammal, the external skeleton (exoskeleton) of mollusks function both for protection and as a place for muscle attachment. 
    A SHELL found on a beach is the skeletal remnant of a dead MOLLUSK.

    MOLLUSKS are either snail-like animals with one shell (UNIVALVES, or GASTROPODS), or clam-like animals with two shells (BIVALVES). The two shells of a BIVALVE are held tightly together when the animal is alive.

    A third group of MOLLUSKS are the CEPHALOPODS, including SQUIDS and OCTOPUSES. These animals lack external shells, having instead internal or rudimentary shells. 

    GASTROPODS  (Class Gastropoda): snail-like mollusks with a one-part shell


  84. Milk Conch  ______  BZ
    Strombus costatus

  85. Rooster-tail Conch  ______  BZ
    Strombus gallus

  86. Queen Conch  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:435)
    Strombus gigas

    Above & below: Queen Conch
    In the lower photo, in the sea

  87. Hawkswing Conch  ______  BZ
    Strombus raninus

  88. West Indian Fighting Conch  ______  BZ
    Strombus pugilis

  89. West Indian Turban Shell  ______  BZ
    Cittarium pica 
    (or Livonia pica)


  90. True Tulip Shell  ______  BZ  MX  YP  (ASC:421)   in the Caribbean, also from North Carolina to Texas 
    Fasciolaria tulipa

    The orange-red color morph of the True Tulip Shell is most common on the Yucatan Peninsula and in the Florida Keys.

  91. Banded Tulip Shell  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:422)   the Yucatan, also West indies including Bahamas, and North Carolina to Texas
    Fasciolaria hunteria

    As handsome as it is, the Banded Tulip Snail is also an aggressive predator that feeds on many other species of snails. In turn, it is eaten by the larger Florida Horse Conch (below).    

  92. Florida Horse Conch  ______  BZ  MX  (ASC:426)   in Mexico, also North Carolina to Texas
    Pleuroploca gigantea  (formerly in the genus Fasciolaria)

    Pleuroploca gigantea
    is one of the biggest shells in the world, up to 24 inches long and 10 inches wide.
    Older shells are usually well covered with various bryozoans, barnacles, tube worms, and other sedentary invertebrates. 


  93. Emperor Helmet  (ph)  ______  BZ  MX  (ASC:434)   in the Caribbean, also southeast Florida
    Cassis madagascariensis 

    In Belize, the Emperor Helmet is locally called "King Conch". 

    Emperor Helmet
    (photo courtesy of Diane Allison) 

  94. Royal Triton  (ph)  ______  BZ
    Charonia variegata

    Above & below: the Royal Triton

  95. Scotch Bonnet  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:454)
    Phalium granulatum

    Scotch Bonnet

  96. Atlantic Partridge Tun  ______  BZ
    Tonna maculosa

  97. Long-spinned Star-shell  ______  BZ 
    Astraea phoebia

    Another name for Astraea phoebia is Eyestone Shell.

  98. Moon Snail  ______  BZ
    Polinices spp.

  99. Common Atlantic Bubble  ______  BZ  (ASC:443)
    Bulla striata
    (formerly Bulla occidentalis  

  100. Flamingo Tongue  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:449) 
    Cyphoma gibbosum

    Flamingo Tongue

  101. Caribbean Vase  ______  BZ
    Vasum muricatum

  102. Bleeding Tooth  (ph)  ______  BZ
    Nerita peloronta 

    Bleeding Tooth

  103. Tessellate Nerite  ______  BZ
    Nerita tessellata

  104. Four-toothed Nerite  ______  BZ
    Nerita versicolor

  105. Cayenne Keyhole Limpet  ______  BZ  (ASC:384)
    Diodora cayensis

  106. Zebra Periwinkle  ______  BZ
    Littorina ziczac


  107. Rock Shell  ______  MX  (ASC:415)   Mexico, also West Indies, and North Carolina to Texas  
    Thais haemastoma 


  108. Lightning Whelk  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:427,428)   the Yucatan, also North Carolina to Texas
    Busycon contrarium

    The large Lightning Whelk, up to 16 inches long and 7 inches wide, is unusual in that its spiralling is to the left. 
    The size and beauty of the shell make it an attractive souvenir.

  109. Crown Conch  ______  MX  (ASC:429)   from Florida to Mexico
    Melongena corona

    Melongena corona
    occurs in shallow water, below the low-tide line.

  110. West Indian Crown Conch  ______  BZ
    Melongena melongena

    Another name for Melongena melongena is Mud Conch. The species was described by Linnaeus in 1758. 


  111. Junonia  (or Juno's Volute)  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:423)
    Scaphella junonia butleri  
    subspecies off the Yucatan coast

    The Junonia has historically been prized for its beauty and apparent rarity. It is, however, commonly taken accidentally as bycatch from rather deep water during commercial trawling for shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico.    


    CONES are all predatory and equipped with poison glands and a radula that has detachable, dart-like teeth.
    It should be noted that a live CONE SNAIL held in the hand could harpoon the holder, and the snail is mildly toxic. 

  112. Stearn's Cone  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:432)   the Yucatan, also West Indies including Bahamas, and North Carolina to Texas 
    Conus stearnsi


  113. Spotted Sea Hare  ______  BZ  (ASC:210)
    Aplysia dactylomela 

  114. Atlantic Black Sea Hare  (ph) (*)  ______  YP (seen from shore during a FONT tour, photo below)
    Aplysia morio

    Aplysia morio
    is called "Tinta" in Spanish.

    This odd creature was seen in the water of a coastal bay 
    from the shoreline in the northern Yucatan,
    after dark, during the FONT Mexico tour in March 2009.

    In English, it's called the ATLANTIC BLACK SEA HARE.  
    Its scientific name is Aplysia morio.
    In Spanish, it's a "Tinta", so called because it ejects ink when disturbed.
    The word "tinta" in Spanish means "ink".
    The creature, 16 inches long, and 14 inches across, 
    is in the Phylum Mollusca (the Mollusks), in the Class Gastropoda 
    as are other things such as the Common Periwinkle and the Slipper Limpet.

    When the Sea Hare swims, the large parapodia is spread very widely.
    It swims in the direction of its "two-pronged head",
    in other words, toward the upper left of the photo.    
    (photo by Marie Gardner) 

    BIVALVES, also known as PELECYPODS (Class Bivalva)


  115. Flat Tree Oyster  ______  (ASC:357)   Caribbean coast in Central America; also West Indies, south Florida, Texas   
    Isognomon alatus

    The Flat Tree Oyster is commonly found in large compact clumps. Like the following species, the Mangrove Oyster, the Flat Tree Oyster occurs on mangrove roots. 

  116. Mangrove Oyster  ______  BZ 
    Crassostrea rhizophorae


  117. Saw-toothed Pen Shell  ______  MX  (ASC:299)   Mexico, also West Indies, and North Carolina to Texas
    Atrina serrata

    The Saw-toothed Pen Shell is harvested in Mexico, where its adductor muscles are canned and sold as "scallops".
    In some places, Atrina serrata is very common. During storms, at times, large numbers are washed ashore.

    CLAMS  (including COCKLES)

  118. Broad-ribbed Cardita  ______  MX  (ASC:324)   Mexico, also south Florida to Texas
    Carditamera floridana

    The clam, the Broad-ribbed Cardita, is commonly used in the shellcraft industry.

  119. Common Egg Cockle  ______  MX  (ASC:330)   Mexico, also West Indies, and North Carolina to Texas 
    Laevicardium laevigatum  

  120. Morton's Egg Cockle  ______  MX  (ASC:342)   Mexico, also West Indies, and Cape Cod MA to Texas
    Laevicardium mortoni

    The Morton's Egg Cockle is small, 1 inch long and 1 and one-eighth inch high. It is often washed ashore during storms.

  121. Disk Dosinia  (or Disk Shell)  ______  MX  (ASC:334) (PAS:25) (PS:31)   Mexico, also Bahamas, and Virginia to Texas
    Dosinia discus 

  122. Sunray Venus  ______  MX  (ASC:302) (PS:31)   Mexico, also North Carolina to Texas 
    Macrocallista nimbosa

    A large clam, up to 5 inches long and 2 and a half inches high, the Sunray Venus was used during pre-Columbian times as a tool.

  123. Southern Quahog  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:336) (PS:30)   Mexico, also Cuba, and Virginia to Texas
    Mercenaria campechiensis  

  124. False Angel Wing  ______  MX  (ASC:297) (PS:30)   Mexico, also from eastern Canada to Texas; introduced on the North American Pacific coast 
    Petricola pholadiformis


  125. Coquina  ______  MX  (ASC:321) (PAS:25) (PS:37)   Mexico, also Long Island NY to Texas
    Donax variabilis

    Other names for Donax variabilis are Butterfly Shell, Wedge Shell, and Pompano.

    Donax variabilis burrows in loose sand at the midwater line, where in favorable conditions individuals may be gathered by the handful with hardly any sand mixed in.
    Even though the shells are so small (three-fourths of an inch long, three-eighths of an inch high), they are often so gathered and made into a delicious broth.

    Dead Coquina shells usually remain in pairs, connected at the hinge, and spread out appearing like butterflies.

    The color patterns of Donax variabilis are variable, in fact quite so. Out of let's say 50 shells, it is sometimes difficult to find 2 that are exactly alike.


  126. Angel Wing  (ph)  ______  MX  (ASC:296) (PAS:27) (PS:38)   Mexico, also West Indies, and north to Cape Cod MA, south to Brazil
    Cyrtopleura costata

    Described by Linnaeus in 1758, the Angel Wing belongs to a family of borers, the PHOLADS. 

    When cleaned, the two delicate and graceful valves held together by the hinge ligament truly suggest the wings of an angel. 

    Angel Wing

    CEPHALOPODS including SQUIDS and OCTOPUSES  (Class Cephalopoda) 


  127. Long-finned Squid  ______  YP
    Loligo pealeii
    Spanish name: Calamar

    In the fish markets in Campeche, Mexico, the squid for sale are small. The two varieties are Loligo pealeii and Loligo plei (below). They reach lengths of only 10 inches (Loligo pealeii) and 11.5 inches (Loligo plei).
    Both are typically by-catch that may be discarded, used for bait, or sold in the market. In Campeche, these are the most typical market squid. 
    (from the book:  "Yucatan, Recipes from a Culinary Expedition" by David Sterling)

  128. Slender Inshore Squid  ______  YP
    Loligo plei
    Spanish name: Calamar

  129. Spirula  ______  BZ 
    Spirula spirula 

    The Spirula is a deep-sea squid. It was described by Linnaeus in 1758.

  130. Atlantic Oval Squid  (or Reef Squid)  (ph)  ______  BZ  (PCR:31)
    Sepioteuthis sepioidea

    Atlantic Oval Squid, or Reef Squid
    (photo courtesy of Diane Allison)


  131. Caribbean Reef Octopus  ______  BZ 
    Octopus briareus 

    Another name for Octopus briareus is Briar Octopus.

  132. Long-armed Octopus  (ph)  ______  (ASC:482)
    Octopus macropus

    Other names for Octopus macropus are White-spotted Octopus and Grass Octopus. It grows up to 3 and one-quarter feet, including the longest arm.

    A Long-armed Octopus, or White-spotted Octopus


    HORSESHOE CRAB  (Class Merostomata)

  133. Horseshoe Crab  (ph) (*)  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:666)
    Limulus polyphemus

    Horseshoe Crab
    (photo by Rise Hill)

    CRUSTACEANS  (Class Crustacea)


  134. Little Striped Barnacle  ______  (ASC:279)
    Balanus amphitrite

  135. Ivory Barnacle  ______  (ASC:275)
    Balanus eburneus

  136. Bay Barnacle  ______  (ASC:274)
    Balanus improvisus

  137. Common Goose Barnacle  ______  BZ  (ASC:288)
    Lepas anatifera 


  138. American Pink Shrimp  ______  BZ  MX  YP   the Caribbean, and north to the Chesapeake bay, south to Brazil    
    Panaeus durarum


    SHRIMP is used in Yucatan Style CEVICHE, a seafood dish that is popular in coastal regions of Central America, including Belize and the Yucatan.
    Ceviche is typically made with fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon and lime, and spiced with aji or chili peppers.
    Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and coriander, may also be added (also noted in the next paragraph).
    Ceviche is often accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado, or plantain.
    As ceviche is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. It can be safer to prepare it with frozen or blast-frozen fish, due to Anisakis parasites.

    Ceviche is said to have originated in South America, in Peru. The dish, however, has been part of the traditional Mexican coastal cuisine has centuries. 
    Mexican ceviche has developed its own distinct styles that make it unique from other variations.
    In Mexico and Central America, it is served in cocktail cups with tostadas, or as a tostada topping and taco filling.
    Sea Bass, grouper, tuna, mackerel, and octopus squid are popular bases for Mexican ceviche.
    The marinade ingredients include: salt, lime, onion, chili peppers, avocado, and coriander leaves (known as "cilantro" in the Americas). Tomatoes are often added to the preparation. 

    Following is a recipe for YUCATAN STYLE FISH CERVICHE:

    Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 pounds of sea bass, 3/4 pound large shrimp, 1 large sweet onion, 3 medium Habanero peppers, 1 cup fresh lime juice, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup seeded and diced tomato.

    Cut the fish in 1/4 inch slice, remove any bones as you go. Place the fish in a glass or glazed ceramic dish large enough to hold one in full layer. Shell and devain the shrimp, rinsing them only if necessary to rid them of grit. Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise or butterfly them. Layer the shrimp over the fish. Slice the onion in half lengthwise, then crosswise in thin slices  Layer the onion over the fish and shrimp.
    Toast the habaneros fro 3 to 5 minutes in a dry skillet to release the oil from the cells. Wearing rubber gloves, stem, seed and sliver the habaneros and scatter them over the onions.
    Season the dish with salt and pour in the lime and orange juices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 5 hours or overnight, or until the fish and shrimp are opaque. Pour off most of the marinade to reduce the carbs from the fruit juice.
    Add cilantro and diced tomato, stir and serve at cool room temperature. Serve with tortilla chips.

  139. Brown Shrimp  ______  MX  YP   the Caribbean, and north to New Jersey and south to Uruguay
    Penaeus aztecus

  140. White Shrimp  ______  MX YP
    Penaeus setiferus

  141. Common Shore Shrimp  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:607)   from the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico 
    Palamonetes vulgaris

  142. Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:616)   the Yucatan, also West Indies, Bahamas, Florida 
    Periclimenes pedersoni

  143. Spotted Cleaning Shrimp  ______  MX  YP  (ASC:617)   the Yucatan, also West Indies, Florida
    Periclimenes yucatanicus    

    The Spotted Cleaning Shrimp lives among the tentacles of the Pink-tipped Anemone, Ringed Anemone, and others.
    It is found around coral reefs in shallow water.
    Like other cleaning shrimps, Periclimenes yucatanicus cleans parasites from the skin and mouths of fishes.    

  144. West Indies Spiny Lobster  (*) ______  BZ  MX  YP  (ASC:625)   in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, also north to North Carolina, south to Brazil 
    Panulirus argus

    The Spiny Lobster grows up to 21 inches long. Although it is called "crawfish" in many places, Panulirus argus is not to be confused with the freshwater crawfish or crayfish.

    Off the Yucatan Peninsula, the West Indies Spiny Lobster occurs at the Alacranes Reef.  

    "Langosta en Leche de Coco",
    which is lobster poached in coconut milk. This is a specialty of Belize and the coast of the Yucatan.

  145. Ridged Slipper Lobster  ______  BZ   the Caribbean, also in the Gulf of Mexico and north to North Carolina 
    Scyllarides nodifer


    CRABS are found on every continent. An array of varieties of both small and large crabs make them a favorite seafood many places throughout the world.
    Little mud crabs are perfect for soups and stocks.
    Dungeness Crabs (in western North America, along the coast of the Pacific Northwest) provide wonderfully sweet meat.
    Shore crabs in their molted state are a delicacy, and are known as "soft-shell crabs".
    And the magnificent King Crab (of Alaska) is favored for its leg meat.

    Many crabs are harvested sustainably as they are caught live.

    Generally, crab contains two types of meat: 
    White meat is extracted from the legs, claws, and central body. 
    Brown meat is located in the carapace or shell that contains the main organs.
    White meat is generally the more popular because it is sweet and delicate. Brown meat, or the meat from the body of the crab, has a stronger and more pronounced flavor and varies in consistency.

    Crab is sold live, cooked and unprepared, and cooked and dressed (which means that the inedible parts have been removed).
    Fresh, pasteurized and canned crab meat is also available, usually separated into white and brown.
    Cooked crab should always be purchased from a reliable source. It should have a lovely sweet seafood aroma.

    To remove the meat from a cooked crab, place it on its back and break off the claws and legs, then break off the tail flap. Insert a heavy-bladed knife between the body shell, twist and then pry apart with your thumbs. Remove and discard the "dead man's fingers" (the gills).
    Using a spoon, scoop the brown meat out into a bowl. Halve the body with a sharp knife and carefully pick out the meat. Finally, press on the back shell just behind the eyes, then remove and discard the mouth and stomach sac. Scoop out the remaining brown meat.

    Some notes, now, regarding the taxonomy of "crabs". The genera that follow are in a number of families: 

    In the families:

    the genera Porcellana and Euceramus, the "'Porcelain Crabs"
    the genera Petrochirus, Clibanarius, Dardanus, the "Hermit Crabs"
    the genus Pagurus, a "Hermit Crab"
    the genus Emerita
    the genus Dromidia 
    the genus Persephona
    the genus Calappa, "Box Crabs"
    the genus Hepatus
    the genera Ovalipes, Portunus, Callinectes, Carcinus, the "Swimming Crabs"
    the genus Cancer
    the genus Eriphia
    the genera Eurypanopeus and Neopanope, the "Mud Crabs"
    the genus Menippe
    the genera Pachygraspsus and Plagusia, the "Shore Crabs"
    the genus Sesarma
    OCYPODIDAE, the genera Ocypode
    and Uca, "Sand Crabs" and "Fiddler Crabs"
    the genus Hyas
    the genus Libinia
    the genus Mithrx
    the genus Stenocianops, the "Arrow Crab"
    the genus Parthenope

  146. Land Hermit Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:685)
    Coenobita clypeatus

    Another name for Coenobita clypeatus is Caribbean Hermit Crab.

    Land Hermit Crab
    (photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)

  147. Giant Hermit Crab  ______  BZ  (ASC:682)
    Petrochirus diogenes

    Another name for Petrochirus diogenes is Red Hermit Crab.

  148. Common Blue Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:657)
    Callinectes sapidus

    Common Blue Crab
    (photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)

  149. Giant Blue Land Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:632)
    Cardisoma guanhumi

    Another name for Cardisoma guanhumi is Great Land Crab. 

    When they are spawning, thousands of Giant Blue Land Crabs can be seen going into the water at night. In days gone by, hundreds of thousands could be seen in less populated areas going into the ocean. That phenomenon occurs when the moon is is full (lunar periodicity).
    The breeding season, during with spawning occurs, is in July and August. Mating takes place in burrows on land, so all of the migrating crabs are "berried" females. The larvae hatch in the sea and go through a complicated series of shape changes. About 25 days are spent n the sea, before the young crabs come on land.  

    The Giant Blue Land Crab is hole-dwelling, and may be up to 7 inches across. The male (called the "bo crab" in Belize) has an usually large claw.    

    A Giant Blue Land Crab in Belize

  150. Batwing Coral Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:648)
    Carpilius corallinus

    Batwing Coral Crab

  151. Stone Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:642)
    Menippe mercenaria

  152. Large Reef Spider Crab  ______  BZ
    Mithrax spp.

  153. Yellow Box Crab  ______  BZ  (ASC:673)  
    Calappa gallus

    Another name for Calappa gallus is Shame-faced Crab.

  154. Spotted Porcelain Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:647) 
    Porcellana sayana

    Another name for Porcellana sayana is Say's Porcelain Crab.

    Porcellana sayana
    is small, only about an inch wide. It is often found in association with the Queen Conch, and with marine hermit crabs occupying vacant shells.  

    Spotted Porcelain Crab

  155. Arrow Crab  ______  BZ  (ASC:574)
    Stenorhynchus seticornis

  156. Giant Decorator Crab  ______  BZ
    Stenocionopus turcata

  157. Red Rock Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:649)   in the Caribbean area and along the Atlantic coast in South America 
    Graspus graspus

    Graspus graspus
    is also known as the "Sally Lightfoot Crab". It was described by Linnaeus in 1758. In addition to the range noted above, it is found along the Pacific coast of Central America and South America, and in the Galapagos Islands.

    The adult Graspus graspus is quite variable in color. Some can be muted brownish-red, while others can be mottled or spotted brown, pink, or yellow.
    Young Graspus graspus are black or dark brown. They are camouflaged well on the black lava coasts of volcanic islands. 

    Graspus graspus has 5 pairs of legs. The front two have small, blocky, symmetrical chalae. The other legs are broad and flat.
    The crab's round, flat carapace is just over 3 inches in length. 

    Red Rock Crab

  158. Spotted Decorator Crab  ______  BZ
    Microphrys bicornutus

  159. Atlantic Ghost Crab  (ph)  ______  BZ  (ASC:631)   north of the Caribbean to Massachusetts, south to southern Brazil
    Ocypode quadrata 

    The Atlantic Ghost Crab is more active at night than it is in the daytime. It is an inhabitant of sandy beaches.

    Atlantic Ghost Crab

  160. Mudflat Fiddler Crab  ______  BZ
    Uca rapax

  161. Saltpan Fiddler Crab  ______  BZ
    Uca burgersi

  162. Atlantic Mangrove Fiddler  ______  BZ
    Uca thayeri

  163. Mangrove Tree Crab  ______  BZ
    Aratus pisonii

  164. Mangrove Root Crab  ______  BZ 
    Goniopsis cruentata     

    Another name for Goniopsis cruentata is Spotted Mangrove Crab.

    ECHINODERMS:  Sea Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins

  165. Cushion Star  (ph) (*)  ______  BZ  (ASC:541)
    Oreaster reticulatus

    Another name for Oreaster reticulatus is Reticulated Sea Star. It walks over sand bottoms of Turtle Grass beds, especially around 6 feet in depth.

    Cushion Star
    (photo courtesy of Diane Allison)

    The following species are BRITTLE STARS, also known as SERPENT STARS. Worldwide, there are over 1,800 species of BRITTLE STARS.

    BRITTLE STARS seem to be "everywhere" in the coral reef, and in its environs. There does not seem to be hole that they do not use for a home.

    A Brittlestar
    (photo courtesy of Diane Allison) 

  166. Short-spined Brittle Star  ______  BZ
    Ophioderma brevispina

  167. Atlantic Long-spined Brittle Star  ______  BZ
    Ophiothrix angulata

    The Atlantic Long-spined Brittle Star is highly variable in color and pattern.

  168. Long-spined Sea Urchin  (ph)  (*) ______  BZ
    Diadema antillarum

    The Long-spined Sea Urchin has spines up to 15 inches long. 

    Above & below: Long-spined Sea Urchins 
    (photos courtesy of Diane Allison)

    Below: a sea urchin in sand particles
    (photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)


    (Spanish names precede the scientific names.) 

  169. Aguila Ciega  ("blind eel") (*) ______  YP
    Ophisternon infernale

  170. Dama Blanca  (an eyeless, white fish) (*) ______ YP
    Ogilbia pearsei

  171. Camaron Ciego  ("blind shrimp") (*) ______ YP
    Creaseria morleyi

  172. Cochinilla aguatica  (an eyeless crustacean) (*) ______ YP
    Creaseriella anops 

References include:

"Sea Life - A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment", edited by Geoffrey Waller, with principal contributors Marc Dando & Michael Burchett, 1996.  

"Fishes of the Atlantic Coast: Canada to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean", by Gar Goodson, 1976.  

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