Diversity
Diversity of reef organisms

A healthy reef supports a rich diversity of organisms.  CLICK ON a "hot" button to see some examples of Caribbean reef plants and animals. Throughout the VIRTUAL DIVE we’ll see these and many other reef-dwellers and will study what they do, how they behave, and how they interact. 

hot buttons for diversity section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website diversity of corals diversity of gorgonians diversity of sponges diversity of worms diversity of molluscs diversity of crustaceans diversity of echinoderms diversity of tunicates diversity of turtles diversity of fishes diversity of sharks/mammals
icon for tunicate-diversity section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website

Tunicates

There are about 60 species of tunicates in the Caribbean Sea, but most go unnoticed owing to their cryptic appearance and small size.


seahorse dive leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website photograph of Caribbean tunicate taken from a video

"Because they bear features in common with fish and other vertebrates, tunicates are the most evolutionarily advanced invertebrates on the reef.  This one is a solitary form and this one is a colonial form" - Turks & Caicos 2003

NOTE both species have unknown ID


Tunicates feed on organic particles that they filter from the seawater using a seive-like structure known as a pharyngeal basket. Tunicates exist in 2 main forms: solitary and colonial. Colonial forms are further subdivided into social and compound types, the difference relating to the extent of fusion of the individuals making up the colony.
photo composite showing solitary tunicates

photo composite of compound tunicate

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diversity of corals diversity of gorgonians diversity of sponges diversity of worms diversity of molluscs diversity of crustaceans diversity of echinoderms diversity of tunicates diversity of turtles diversity of fishes diversity of sharks/mammals