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February 14, 2024

Meet 5 Monogamous Marine Creatures of the Belize Barrier Reef

TOPICS: Belize


We’re here to tell you that love isn’t only in the air…it’s in the water too! No, it’s not a bouquet of roses or a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Rather, this tale of romance is more along the lines of wooing with snout-to-snout caresses and heart-shaped shells underwater!

Today, we’re sharing our love for Belize’s marine environment—including the Belize Barrier Reef—by celebrating the love found within, like these monogamous marine creatures that mate for life. Here’s to redefining #relationshipgoals with the most amorous ocean animals on the reef. Happy Valentine’s Day from Oceana Belize!

  1. French Angelfish

‘Til death do us part! These aren’t just vows, but second nature to French Angelfish, which form monogamous bonds that can last their lifetimes. Monogamy is not a common practice for most fish, but these lovers are rarely ever seen alone. Once a bond is made, the aquatic pair will then live, travel, and hunt together. It’s not only an amorous act, but a protective one: with strength in numbers, French Angelfish work as a team to defend their territory against predators and competing neighboring pairs. Who needs personal space, anyway?  

  1. Seahorses

Scientists believe that some seahorses have monogamous relationships and form pairs that stay together for several mating seasons in a row! No two left feet here either: potential mates will mirror each other’s movements and synchronize swimming side-by-side as a “dancing ritual” to impress the other. These ‘dates’ are first thing in the morning to reinforce their pair bonding with the elaborate courtship display, where they even change color! That takes blushing to a new level. Most uniquely though, the seahorse is the only creature where the male has a true reversed pregnancy, where up to 1,500 eggs are transferred from the female to self-fertilize in his pouch.

Seahorses, especially the Longsnout variety found in Belize, are very poor swimmers, which is the main reason why they stay faithful season after season.

  1. Hawksbill Turtles

Who doesn’t love turtles? Belize’s soft sands and coral reefs are a stronghold for three critically endangered sea turtle species: Green, Loggerhead, and Hawksbill. The Caribbean Hawksbill turtle finds a special spot on our list of romantic, monogamous marine creatures—not just because they begin life with a heart-shaped shell!

Each female Hawksbill turtle mates with only one male throughout the breeding season, regardless of access to higher-quality mating options. Essentially, she’s saying, “You don’t need to be perfect, just perfect for me!”

Note: Meet Tesoro, the endangered Hawksbill sea turtle tagged on the beach of Gales Point Manatee Village, Belize.

  1. Mantis Shrimp

Tiny but mighty, the Peacock Mantis Shrimp’s grand romantic gesture is that once they meet their other half, they’ll stay together for the rest of their lives. For an average lifespan of 20 years, they will burrow, hunt, clean, and defend each other until the end! Beauty is also in the eyes of the beholder: Peacock mantis shrimp are known to have extremely complex eyes and can see in more wavelengths of color than even mammals. During their mating rituals—once head over heels—these bright-colored crustaceans go fluorescent.

  1. Butterflyfish

Monogamy is uncommon in fish, but this dainty duo is breaking the mold. Almost always in a pair, these species spawn at dusk during a long, vigorous courtship but they’re shy: Banded butterflyfish do not reproduce in groups, but broadcast spawning only. They’re also pretty territorial, instantly staking their claim to a prime piece of reef real estate one they’ve found their better half. And if they do become separated, they’ll swim upward in hopes of getting a better view and finding their lost love.

Make a little more room for love this Valentine’s Day and become a Wavemaker, adding your voice to our campaigns while staying connected with the latest ocean news and updates.