The BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS is presented as a VIRTUAL DIVE, with text, photographs, and videos. All topics in the VIRTUAL DIVE are "stand-alone", but there is a kind of order as presented in the menu above or, better, in the TOPICS section accessible from this same menu.

The ORDER is as follows. First comes a description of types of Caribbean reefs, including how they form and threats to their survival. Next comes an overview of their biodiversity including a small section on mangroves. There is also an account of potentially dangerous reef organisms. Later sections tell how organisms recruit to the reef, the hazards they face as larvae and juveniles, the role of asexual reproduction in recruitment, how as adults they compete for space and other vital resources, and the ways in which they live together. In other sections you will learn about nutrition of coral-reef organisms, including photosynthesis, herbivory, carnivory, detritivory, and bacterivory.  The VIRTUAL DIVE concludes with a description of the many and varied defenses of reef organisms, and the role that colours play in behaviour and survival.

There are 312 videos and 2400 illustrations, including photographs, drawings, graphs, and cartoons.

NOTE I produced an introductory version of BCCR several years ago as a DVD, but its linear format proved unwieldy and slow, and like a book, it was set in stone. The present web-based version allows changes to be made quickly and easily, so don't hesitate to give me suggestions/corrections


With the help of Cindy Young of MOUSETRAP MULTIMEDIA a searchable index of common and scientific names of species is now included that enables immediate linking to sections dealing with each species.

NOTE this feature was not working for a time, but Cindy has fixed it, with our thanks!


NOTE: Does one search for common name or scientific name?: the more precise method of searching is to use the complete binomial scientific name (e.g., Condylactis gigantea for the giant anemone). However, you can use just the genus name (e.g., Condylactis), in which case you will bring up references to other animals in the same genus, or you can use just the species name (e.g., gigantea), in which case you will get all the giant-anemone references, but also all other organisms with the same species name (probably not many). If you use common names in your search you may have difficulty, as there can be many different common names for the same organism. For example, other names for the giant anemone Condylactis gigantea include pink-striped anemone, condy anemone, Haitian anemone, giant Caribbean sea anemone, purple-tipped anemone, Caribbean anemone, giant sea anemone, and purple Haitian anemone. If you were to search for the giant anemone using any of these other names, you would be out of luck. The search word "anemone" alone, however, would bring up all anemones including C. gigantea, which you could then sort through. The search word "giant" alone would be less useful, as you would get a variety of Caribbean organisms including C. gigantea. This potential problem has been made a little bit easier by using, as much as possible, the common names suggested by Paul Humann in his series of Reef Identification publications.

Finally, secondary or tertiary sortings of search results can be made by including other search items such as author or topic. Thus, following the example above, all Condylactis entries could be further sorted to ones relating to topics of diet, reproduction, defense, or what-have-you. How the index can be used should be obvious once you get started.


Throughout the VIRTUAL DIVE your seahorse dive-leader will explain what you are seeing. Whenever the dive leader appears, a video is available for viewing. Simply CLICK ON the dive leader to see it.

A description accompanies each video, usually in both voice and written forms. If you wish to view in silence, you will have to turn off your computer's sound. The videos replay automatically.

This first video happens to have no narrative, only a short description as shown.

drawing of seahorse dive-leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS photograph of blue tangs on reef as start of video in index of website BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS  
Diver follows a group of foraging blue tangs - Turks & Caicos 2003
  You can access topics via the drop-down menu at the top of each page, via the TOPICS page, or via the various links shown in blue throughout the text. All my own photographs and videos in BCCR are free for the taking. If, however, there is a "courtesy of..." descriptor, it means they belong to someone else and you must contact the person named for permission to use them. If you do use any resource item an acknowledgement and link to BCCR would be appreciated.
  If you would like to contribute photographs or video from your Caribbean dives, then please don't hesitate. When you think about it, photographing- and filming-SCUBA-divers are the ones on the spot, with first-hand knowledge of what is going on, and there are thousands of you. Such contributions would be interesting and provocative, and could lead researchers aong new and different lines of exploration. It would make the BCCR participatory and certainly more topical. Contributions will of course be acknowledged where they appear and will also include a link to your favourite dive-Club or personal website if you wish.  

Write to me at if you have questions or if you have suggestions on any aspect of the site.