When it comes to spotting beautiful and colourful fish, your mind immediately wanders to the Andaman Islands or Lakshadweep Islands. But did you know that the very picturesque Pondicherry also displays some of the most magnificent and diverse marine life in the world? Pondicherry has constantly risen to become one of the best SCUBA diving places in India. There are masses of exotic fish in all sizes and shapes here that will definitely leave you in awe! The Temple Adventures team are always on the look-out for new aquatic life and here are our top 6 interesting marine species in Pondicherry.
1. Whale Shark
Ah these amazing creatures! Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish in the seas, growing up to 12 metres or more and weighing around 18 tonnes. Don’t let their size intimidate you as they are often called “gentle giants” due to their docile nature. They’re rare and very approachable so if you wish to take photographs or selfies for memories, go for it! They’re absolute showstoppers!
Whale sharks eat fish, crustaceans, algae but their favourite meal is plankton. These guys visit us periodically (May to July) and many times even grace us with their presence at Temple Reef. We wait eagerly for a visit and when they do come, just imagine us trying not to drop our regulators with our mouth wide open in amazement! 😄 As now is the whale shark season, you may even be lucky enough to spot one while doing your PADI Open Water Diver Course or PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course. We will take a photo and you can make your friends jealous!
2. Red Lionfish
Lionfish are hands-down some of the most alluring marine creatures ever! They’ve distinguishable brown or maroon and white bands all over and have tentacles above the eyes and below the mouth. While they are beautiful, Lionfish are predators that compete for food and space and can be very invasive. As they’re venomous, you should keep a safe distance, but they don’t attack. You can spot them at any of our shallow and deep water dive sites during courses or fun dives.
3. Moorish Idol
Do you like Gill from Finding Nemo? Well, you don’t have to go to Australia to see his kind. Just come to Pondicherry and dive with Temple Adventures! 😀 You can identify Moorish Idols based on their compressed and dish-like bodies with bands of white, yellow and black. They stand out because of their philomantis extension, which is basically an elongation of 6 to 7 spines. They prefer tropical waters as well, so very fortunate for us! You’ll most often find them at Fishermen’s Reef, but as this site is accessible only during a certain time of the year, make sure to call us ahead and plan accordingly.
Fun Fact: The species’ name originates from the Moors of Africa, where Africans believed that the Moorish Idols bring happiness! We sure felt happiness when Gill helped free Nemo!
4. Malabar Grouper
Groupers are fun creatures. They’re sweet, shy and definitely captivating in their own way. Groupers are typically stout and the ones in Pondicherry are usually brown in colour with white spots throughout. You’ll find that they are quite sedentary and won’t swim away until you get too close. These guys are a big hit amongst divers! If you are already an Advanced diver or Deep diver, ask us to dive at the deep site Aravind’s Wall to spot a pack of groupers!
5. Silver Moony
Silver Moonies never fail to put a big smile on your face! These gorgeous marine species are shiny and bright, which makes them relatively easy to spot even in low visibility. You guessed it right – they are silver with yellow edges to the fins. Moonies are predominantly found in the Indo-Pacific region but can also be seen swimming in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. If you are doing the PADI Discover Scuba Diver programme, you’re sure to spot them from even from a shallower depth!
Fun Fact: Silver Moonies have the ability to survive different salinity levels, especially juveniles!
Spotting a pack of barracudas is exhilarating and awesome because it can be an uncommon sight. Barracudas look like snakes with pointy sharp-edged fang-like teeth. The ones in Pondicherry are grey but can be dark green, white or blue as well and have chalk-white belly with silvery sides. You will find it difficult to get closer to barracudas as they’ll swim away very quickly, especially sudden movements. So make sure to stay calm and maintain proper trim! Dive at any of our sites to spot these beauties!
This list is just a beginning. There are tons of other species to marvel at in Pondicherry, which will surprise you and bring tears of joy to your eyes. The underwater world of Pondicherry has heaps to offer for both newcomers and regular SCUBA divers. So bubblemakers, it’s time to experience this whole other world of beauty and excitement and contact us to book a spot! We guarantee that you’ll go home wanting more and start planning your next visit already! 😀