Coral Reef Fish Count

Have you ever wanted to be a Marine Biologist? This is an activity in which you can investigate the fish that inhabit the coral reefs of St. Ann's Bay in Jamaica. You will identify and count fish, then use the data you have collected to make comparisons and draw conclusions.

Why would someone want to conduct a fish count? Marine Biologists might want to compare the fish of one habitat to another; or they might be studying the impacts of commercial or sport fishing, or the impacts of habitat destruction; or they might simply want to see what fish live in an area. In this case your goal is to get an idea of the species diversity (number of different types) and the proportions of herbivores, omnivores, and fish eaters.

Remember, this is an interactive activity. You will collect the data yourself and use a convenient online guide to identify fish and learn more about them. The fish that you "encounter" as you conduct your count will occur in the same frequencies as they were found in an actual snorkeling fish count that occurred in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, in June of 1999. Although you will identify 100 fish, the species and frequencies are based upon a count of 1000 fish.

Click here for a data sheet you can print and use.

Are you ready to start?

Alternate Activity:
If you are not in the snorkling mood... perhaps you would rather work with real data from our fish counts we conducted in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica.

In June, 1999, a team from Central Missouri State University conducted a fish count at two different sites, to compare the fish found in different habitats. These fish counts included 500 fish from each site, showing the true diverstity of these habitats.

In this activity you can practice your math and graphing skills as you make a conclusion about the ecology of coral reef fish. Click here to begin this alternate activity.

Note: The drawings and photos on this web site are copyrighted. They were either created by the web site authors, purchased, or used with permission. If you wish to use any of the images, contact Trish Smith ( or Stan Smith ( for information on the sources of the images.

This page last updated July 23, 1999