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Dangerous Lagoon

Dive with creatures of the deep as you explore Ripley's reef on a moving glidepath, coming face-to-face with sharks, green sea turtles, and more!

What Will You Discover?

Travel underwater on the glidepath and feel like you're swimming right alongside thousands of marine animals spanning every shape and size — including long and winding green moray eels, always-hungry giant grouper, green sea turtles, and some seriously large sharks!

Sergeant Major Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major

The sergeant major is commonly observed forming large feeding aggregations of up to a few hundred individuals.

Size

Up to 9 inches

Habitat

Coral reefs, seagrass beds

Diet

Zooplankton, algae, crustaceans, fish

Range

Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

After a courtship ritual, the male sergeant major will build a nest which he will fiercely defend against all intruders, even scuba divers that get too close!

Ocean Surgeon Ocean Surgeon

Ocean Surgeon

Ocean surgeonfish can usually be found in groups picking algae on the reef. They are often confused with doctorfish, however, unlike ocean surgeonfish, doctorfish have 10-12 vertical bars on their sides.

Diet

Algae

Habitat

Coral reefs

Size

Up to 14 inches

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

These fish have a gizzard-like organ in their intestines that contains hard, abrasive particles, such as sand and coral debris. These particles help to grind up the tough algae that the surgeonfish eat.

Doctorfish Doctorfish

Doctorfish

The doctorfish can be most easily distinguished from its close relative the Ocean Surgeon by the 10-12 dark vertical bars on its side, which are absent in the ocean surgeon. Typically found in small groups foraging for algae on the reef, doctorfish have a gizzard-like organ in the intestine that is partially filled with sand particles to help grind up fibrous algae before digestion.

Diet

Algae

Size

Up to 15 inches

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea; Possibly Eastern Atlantic Ocean along African coast

Did You Know?

Like all members of their family, these fish have a scalpel-like spine at the base of their tail that can be extended and wielded as a weapon against predators or during territorial disputes. The genus name Acanthurus is derived from Greek and translates to "thorn tail," a fitting name for these fish.

Blue Tang Surgeonfish Blue Tang Surgeonfish

Blue Tang Surgeonfish

The beautiful blue tang may be found alone, protecting and tending a small reef territory, or in peaceful groups, foraging the reef for algae.

Habitat

Coral reefs

Diet

Algae, plankton

Size

Up to 15 inches

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Juvenile blue tang are actually yellow, slowly changing to blue as they grow. When viewed under ultraviolet light, they actually appear neon green due to a process called biofluorescence, which may be used to signal members of their own species.

Porkfish Porkfish

Porkfish

During the day, porkfish are often found in large groups under rocky outcroppings, floating motionless. While at night, they become voracious hunters.

Size

Up to 15 inches

Diet

Mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, worms

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Porkfish get their name from the grunting noise they make by grinding their teeth together, though you won't see any teeth in their mouth because they are actually near the throat on the pharyngeal bone of the jaw.

Bluestripe Grunt Bluestripe Grunt

Bluestripe Grunt

Found in mangrove, seagrass, and coral reef habitats, the bluestripe grunt typically mills around in small groups under rock ledges or near large gorgonians during the day, preferring to forage at night.

Size

Up to 18 inches

Diet

Crustaceans, mollusks, fish

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Bluestripe grunts have a striking bright red mouth, which they will display during territorial disputes or perhaps courtship. Two grunts will line up head to head, open their mouths, push each other back and forth, mouth to mouth. The winner is often ambiguous, but they seem to have worked something out in the end.

Bar Jack Bar Jack

Bar Jack

The bar jack is highly mobile and is usually found cruising in shallow waters above or adjacent to coral reefs.

Habitat

Coral reefs

Size

Up to 29 inches

Diet

Fish, crustaceans

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

The bar jack is most easily distinguished by a black stripe which runs along the back and down the lower lobe of the tail, often accompanied by a blue stripe immediately below it.

Red Grouper Red Grouper

Red Grouper

Juvenile red groupers prefer grass beds, rock formations, and reefs in shallow, nearshore waters, typically moving offshore as they mature. Adults are usually found over rocky and muddy bottoms 100 or more feet deep and more rarely on coral reefs. They engulf prey whole by opening their large mouths, rapidly drawing in a current of water, and inhaling the food.

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Diet

Fish, crustaceans

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Red grouper play a significant role in their underwater environment by acting as “marine engineers.” They excavate flat-bottom areas, creating habitat for themselves and other commercially important species, such as spiny lobster, black grouper, red porgy, and vermilion snapper.

Green Turtle Green Turtle

Green Turtle

The green turtle is commonly found near the coastline, living in bays and protected shores, especially in areas with seagrass beds and coral reefs. Juveniles are carnivorous, often eating worms, crustaceans and aquatic insects, while adults are essentially herbivorous.

Conservation Status

Endangered

Diet

Algae, seagrass

Range

Worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters

Did You Know?

Juveniles are known to spend several years drifting in the open ocean as they grow and mature. Once matured, they will return to the beach where they were born to mate.

French Grunt French Grunt

French Grunt

French grunts form large schools that can number in the thousands and can be found over rocky substrates, coral reefs, or under ledges. Adults are nocturnal feeders, often leaving their daytime habitat where they separate from their schools, moving to nearby seagrass beds and mangrove areas to forage.

Size

Up to 12 inches

Diet

Crustaceans, worms, mollusks

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Their name ‘grunt’ comes from the noise they make by grinding their teeth together.

Bermuda Chub Bermuda Chub

Bermuda Chub

The Bermuda chub forms large schools on shallow reefs, often feeding on plankton near the surface. They can also be found over algal reefs, seagrass beds, and reef flats. Juveniles, which often shelter among floating Sargassum seaweeds, can disperse across vast distances.

Size

Up to 30 inches

Range

Worldwide in tropical waters

Diet

Algae, crustaceans, mollusks, plankton

Did You Know?

Bermuda chub have been documented to feed on the feces and vomit of spinner dolphins in the southeast Atlantic. They're not picky eaters to say the least.

Hogfish Hogfish

Hogfish

Hogfish are unique and inquisitive wrasse and are usually found cruising near the bottom, especially in areas with abundant gorgonians.

Habitat

Coral reefs

Size

Up to 36 inches

Diet

Mollusks, crustaceans, and urchins

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Hogfish get their name from their distinctively long pig like snout which they use to root around in the sand for buried prey like crustaceans and mollusks.

Atlantic Tarpon Atlantic Tarpon

Atlantic Tarpon

Atlantic tarpon are often found near coral reefs but also live in bays and mangrove lagoons, sometimes traveling up rivers into freshwater. Tarpon can actually breathe air by gulping from the surface; the air enters their swim bladder, which acts as a primitive lung, allowing them to tolerate low oxygen environments.

Size

Up to 98 inches

Diet

Fish, crustaceans

Range

Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Tarpon are one of the oldest living fishes, with fossils dating back over 130 million years.

Sand Tiger Shark Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

The sand tiger shark can be found at all levels in the water column. Where food is plentiful, these sharks may aggregate in groups of 80 or more strong!

Conservation Status

Critically Endangered

Diet

Fish, crustaceans, squid

Range

Worldwide in temperate waters; absent from Eastern Pacific Ocean

Did You Know?

Sand tiger sharks are the only sharks known to maintain neutral buoyancy by gulping air at the water's surface and holding it in their stomach. This allows them to hover motionless in the water.

Black Grouper Black Grouper

Black Grouper

A solitary species, black grouper, in its adult stage, typically inhabits coral reefs near edges, caves, and crevices, while juveniles are found in shallower water around seagrass and estuaries. Grouper use their massive mouths to swallow prey whole, even though they have impressive canine teeth to keep slippery fish from escaping.

Conservation Status

Near Threatened

Diet

Fish, crustaceans

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Black grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites. This means they are born as females and later in life sometimes change to males. This usually occurs when they reach a length of 3-4 feet or 11-14 years old.

Lemon Shark Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark

Most active at dusk and dawn, the lemon shark is typically found in shallow water habitats, including mangroves and coral reefs. They tend to form loose groups with similar-sized Lemon Sharks, suggesting a preference for social interaction. During the day, they can occasionally be found resting on the bottom, using their mouth to pump water over their gills in a process called buccal pumping.

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Diet

Fish, mollusks, crustaceans

Range

Eastern Pacific Ocean, coastal Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Shark skin is covered by V-shaped scales, called dermal denticles, that are more like teeth than fish scales. These denticles decrease drag and turbulence, allowing the shark to swim faster and more quietly. Lemon Shark dermal denticles are usually shades of yellow, which is where their name comes from.

Yellowtail Snapper Yellowtail Snapper

Yellowtail Snapper

The yellowtail snapper is a beautiful and abundant species often found in large aggregations during the day, preferring to hunt primarily at night.

Size

Up to 34 inches

Habitat

Coral reefs, wrecks

Diet

Zooplankton,shrimp, fish

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Though there are 113 species of snapper, the yellowtail snapper is so unique that it's the only member of its genus! Among its most remarkable features is a deeply forked tail similar to those found on fast-swimming fish-like tuna.

Grey Angelfish Grey Angelfish

Grey Angelfish

As juveniles, grey angelfish may act as a cleaner fish, removing parasites from larger reef inhabitants. As they mature, they undergo a complete color transformation and have been observed forming long-term monogamous breeding pairs.

Size

Up to 24 inches

Diet

Algae and sponges

Habitat

Coral reefs, seagrass beds

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

The grey angelfish is very inquisitive about new stimuli in their environment, commonly swimming very close to scuba divers for a closer look.

Goliath Grouper Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

Capable of reaching up to 1,000 pounds, the goliath grouper is one of the largest bony fish in the world. Primarily found around coral reefs, rocky ledges, and man-made structures like shipwrecks and bridges. This fish is an ambush predator, meaning it lies in wait for unsuspecting prey to swim by. When prey swims by, the fish, with a lightning-fast strike, engulfs and swallows its prey whole.

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Diet

Fish, crustaceans

Range

Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

When threatened, the goliath grouper can produce an extremely loud drum-like noise by contracting its swim bladder.

Southern Stingray Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray

Found on reef-adjacent sandy bottoms, seagrass beds, and lagoons, the southern stingray is typically buried in the sand during the day, preferring to forage at night. While buried, this ray uses holes behind the eyes called spiracles to draw in clean water above the sand and pump it across the gills on the underside of the body.

Conservation Status

Near Threatened

Diet

Mollusks, worms, crustaceans, fish

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea

Did You Know?

Southern stingrays will use special electroreceptive pores called ampullae of Lorenzini to locate buried prey items by sensing the faint electric fields emitted by living things. Once buried prey is identified, the ray will use jets of water from their mouth and a digging motion with their wings to excavate and consume its prey.

Roughtail Stingray Roughtail Stingray

Roughtail Stingray

The roughtail stingray is a coastal species that can often be found resting over soft substrate like sand or mud for long periods each day. When hunting, this ray will excavate large depressions in the sand by flapping its body to expose buried fish or invertebrates.

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Diet

Fish, crustaceans, mollusks

Range

Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico

Did You Know?

One of the largest and deepest diving stingrays, the roughtail stingray has been recorded at a weight of 660 pounds and a maximum depth of 900 feet! Adults have rows of sharp thorns along their back, especially focused around and on their tail, though these thorns are absent in juveniles.

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