There are nearly 130 different species of marine butterflyfish all living in the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. These beautiful, small fish are known for swimming in monogamous pairs but can sometimes be seen in large schools. Like their larger cousin, the angelfish, they are a favorite sighting for scuba divers and snorkelers due to their beautiful, bright coloration and striking patterns. Another distinguishing characteristic is the eyespots many species have on their flanks to trick predators, similar to those found on butterfly’s wings.
They are widely distributed and abundant in numbers, tending to stay shallower than 18 meters (59 feet), so if you are diving or snorkeling on a coral reef you are almost guaranteed to see one. Many species are territorial and can be observed patrolling a specific area or coral head with their partner, not venturing far from their terrain. If you would like to go diving with butterflyfish explore the map below for some of the most frequently sighted butterflyfish dive sites around the world.