Biodiversity is defined as the variation of life forms and it manifests itself in the genetic diversity of populations, species, ecosystems, and landscapes.
The Canal Luis Peña Natural Reserve is home to 862 species of marine flora and fauna.
To date, the following have been documented:
83 species of corals - these are divided into:
- 47 species of scleractinid (hard) corals
- 32 species of octocorals (soft)
- 4 species of hydrocorals
It is important to emphasize that hydrocorals are not true corals as they belong to another class of cnidarians (Class Hydrozoa). However, these develop a calcareous skeleton similar to that of true corals and that is why they are called hydrocorals.
In addition to corals, the Reserve supports 260 species of fish , many of them of commercial importance, such as grouper.
In addition, the Natural Reserve provides habitat for:
192 species of mollusks
124 species of cnidarians
54 species of arthropods
48 species of sponges .
We can also observe 27 species of echinoderms such as the black urchin Diadema antillarum, which due to its herbivory processes in the reef, is considered a keystone specie, as it can remove the algae that compete for space with the corals.
In the reserve you can see other species of echinoderms such as different types of starfish such as Astropecten duplicatus (photo below).
As for vertebrate organisms (excluding fish) we can find:
3 species of mammals
3 species of reptiles
The photo to the right shows the whitefish or green turtle ( Chelonia mydas ), one of the reptiles that we observe on our coasts, either in the shallow depths of coral reefs or in the seagrass beds. The whitefish, along with all sea turtles, have been protected by federal and state laws since 1970.
Corales duros, octocorales suaves y esponjas
Gusano de fuego alimentándose de un Coral de fuego
El arrecife y sus habitantes (Arte por Paco López)