Manzanillo Underwater Exposed

Learn while you enjoy photos and videos of some of Manzanillo’s unusual sea life.

A harmless Cannonball Jellyfish is beautiful and graceful. This jelly has no stinging cells, and sometimes can be seen in huge swarms, floating in and out of the bays of Manzanillo on warm water currents. Cannonball jellyfish can be from milky brown to yellow in color. It differs from most other jellyfish by having a more muscular body and by the fact that it is a good swimmer. Cannonball jellyfish swim through the ocean pumping water through their eight arms and thereby catch plankton. The plankton is then transported to the cannonball jellyfish’s mouth.

The cannonball jellyfish is, unlike many other species of jellyfish, very nutritious and contains large quantities of protein in the collagen of their bodies. This makes the cannonball jellyfish a potentially important food source around the world, especially in poorer areas where lack of protein in the diet is a major problem.

Night dives allow you to get up close and personal with the animals. This Longnose Puffer (also known as a Lobeskin Puffer)can be found laying on sandy bottoms, sometimes almost buried in the sand. He is one of seven species of puffers found in the waters of Manzanillo. The Longnose Puffer is normally found over sandy bottoms and in weedy patches in the first 60 feet of the water column. It reaches a maximum length of approximately 10 inches.

The Longnose Puffer is a member of a group of Pufferfish that comprise the Tetraodontidae or Pufferfish family. In Mexico, the Longnose Puffer is omnipresent in virtually all Mexican waters.

Sponges are animals of the phylum Porifera. Their bodies consist of jelly-like mesohyl (connective tissue) sandwiched between two thin layers of cells. Sponges are unique in having some specialized cells that can transform into other types, often migrating between the main cell layers and the mesohyl in the process. Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems. Instead, most rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes, and the shapes of their bodies are adapted to maximize the efficiency of the water flow. All are sessile (not able to move about) aquatic animals and, although there are freshwater species, the great majority are marine (salt water) species. Most species feed on bacteria and other food particles in the water. The color blue is rare in nature, so the brilliant blue species of sponge seen in abundance in Manzanillo’s waters is something to photograph and remember.

This yellow soft coral (gorgonian) comes out to feed at night. The colonies of these animals can be found attached to shallow rocks and around reefs. Gorgonians come in many colors, the most common being orange, yellow, and purple.

A gorgonian, also known as sea whip or sea fan, is found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics. Gorgonians are similar to the sea pen, another soft coral. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and reminiscent of a fan. Others may be whip-like, bushy, or even encrusting.

An unusual species of hydrocoral that can only be found in one area of Manzanillo, at about 25 feet. Corals secrete a mucus that is utilized in catching tiny food particles, as well as keeping the polyp free of settling sediment. Reef corals are found where the temperature ranges from 78-85 degrees.

This form of gorgonian comes in the shape of almost round clumps, rather than branching in a single plane. While many corals are fan-like and flexible, moving with the surge, this coral is hard and breakable. Its natural color is white to the center of the colony, and orange-brown on its tips. The height of the colony is only about 8 inches maximum. Found in Carrizales Cove, one of Manzanillo’s popular diving locations.

Chain Jelly, technically called a Chain Siphonophore, this species is a floating, free-swimming colony made up of individual polyps. This creature is delicate and breaks easily when handled.

The siphonophore is a long chain of specialized parts. One link in the chain digests while another one catches prey. This animal swims by waving up and down, like a jump rope. It can grow to lengths of 130 feet, which is longer than Earth’s largest animal – the blue whale.

A school of Spottail Grunts, seen in every bay around Manzanillo. During the day, grunts stay close to shallow rocky shores and reefs, but at night, they move to the sandy areas to feed. A diver, moving and breathing very cautiously, can get to within a foot of a large school.

The Spottail Grunt is a member of the Haemulidae family which are known in Mexico as “burros.” Various species of grunts are found in all Mexican waters along the Pacific Coast.

Seahorses are seen frequently in Manzanillo, and come in many different colors and sizes. This male is pregnant! They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they adopt murky brown and gray patterns to camouflage themselves among the sea grass. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors.

They have long snouts, which they use to suck up food, and eyes that can move independently of each other, much like a chameleon. Seahorses eat small shrimp, tiny fish and plankton.

Seahorses swim upright, another characteristic that is not shared by their close pipefish relatives, which swim horizontally. Seahorses have a coronet on their head, which is distinct to each individual, much like a human fingerprint. They swim very poorly by using a dorsal fin (fin on the back), which they rapidly flutter and pectoral fins, located behind their eyes, which they use to steer. Seahorses have no caudal fin (tail fin). Since they are poor swimmers, they are most likely to be found resting, with their prehensile tails wound around a stationary object.

The male seahorse is equipped with a brood pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side. When mating, the female seahorse deposits the eggs in the male’s pouch, which the male then internally fertilizes. The male carries the eggs until they emerge, expelling fully-developed, miniature seahorses in the water. Each pregnancy lasts about two to three weeks (varies with species and water temperature).  Once the male gives birth, he usually becomes pregnant again right away.

Each day a seahorse can consume up to 3,000 brine shrimp; seahorses have no teeth and swallow their food whole. About 35 ARE known species exist.

Hawksbill turtles are found throughout Mexico’s tropical waters. They avoid deep waters, preferring coastlines where sponges are abundant and sandy nesting sites are within reach.

Not particularly large compared with other sea turtles, hawksbills grow up to about 45 inches in shell length and 150 pounds in weight. While young, their carapace, or upper shell, is heart-shaped, and as they mature it elongates. Their tapered heads end in a sharp point resembling a bird’s beak, hence their name. A further distinctive feature is a pair of claws adorning each flipper. Male hawksbills have longer claws, thicker tails, and somewhat brighter coloring than females.

They are normally found near reefs rich in the sponges they like to feed on. Hawksbills are omnivorous and will also eat mollusks, marine algae, crustaceans, sea urchins, fish, and jellyfish.

The green moray is really brown! The yellow tint of the mucus that covers its body, in combination with the drab background color, gives the fish its characteristic uniform green color. The green moray has conspicuous, tube-like nostrils and finds its prey mostly using its sense of smell.

Green morays are sedentary or sit-and-wait predators with strong teeth. Rather than hunting for food, they wait until food comes to them.

Part of their vicious reputation may come from the fact that they habitually open and close their mouths. Although this behavior may appear threatening, they are actually taking in water to breathe. The water passes over the gills and exits through vent-like openings at the back of the head.


Click on the subject names below and see an underwater video. Videos by Fernando Hernandez and Susan Dearing.

Heading to “The Aquarium,”
a 2-min. ride from the beach

Sea Turtle
at Club de Yates

Beautiful scenery
along the coastline of Colima
Sea Turtle
at Club de Yates
Giant Damselfish
at Elephant Rock
The “Bufadora,” or blowhole
at Elephant Rock
“Puffer Fish City”
at Club de Yates
Mexican Dancer
at Club de Yates
Panamic Star
at Elephant Rock
Coral Reef
The “Aquarium”
Curious puffer
at Club de Yates
at Los Carrizales
at “San Luciano” Shipwreck
Cortez Angelfish
at Club de Yates
Peacock Flounder
at Club de Yates

What’s in a crevice
at Elephant Rock?

Hiding in the coral
at “The Aquarium”

Feeding the King Angels
at Point “B”
Brittle Star
at Elephant Rock
Spotted Snake Eel
at “The Elevator”

Zebra Moray
at Tail of the Elephant

Balloonfish having lunch
at The Pyramids
Stone Scorpionfish
at Playa Audiencia
Spotted Stingray
at Copper Belt
Golden Cownose Rays
at Playa Audiencia
Going to the “San Luciano
shipwreck at La Boquita
“The Elevator,”
one of the stops
“The Elevator”
…..going up!
Snorkeling at Club de Yates
with Yellowtail Surgeonfish
Grunts invade
“Puffer Fish City”
White Spotted Puffer,
a rare find
Spotted Snake Eel
at Club de Yates
Big-eyed Squirrelfish
in Playa Audiencia
Feeding & photographing
King Angels at Point “B”
Free Diver
hunts for octopus

A video made by our happy customers!

A video about Scuba Shack, Susan Dearing, and Manzanillo! (by Randy Dean)

Visit You Tube and watch 50 videos from Underworld Scuba-Scuba Shack.

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Scuba Diving Presentation
by Fernando Hernandez

(a .pdf file, open with Adobe Reader)

Fish Identification Presentation
by Susan Dearing

(a .pdf file, open with Adobe Reader)

Take our underwater digital photography course and take stills or movies with our new digital Olympus Stylus 1030SW.

We’ll put them on a CD for you to take home. 2 gig memory, no limit on pix & videos.

Course taught by PADI Master Instructor Fernando Hernandez, a marine biologist and award-winning underwater photographer.

For more info on this PADI Specialty Course, write: