Marine Life in Zanzibar

Ever wondered about the magnificent marine life in Zanzibar? Spice Island is home to a diverse range of ecosystems that support a wide variety of amazing mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Many of these animals can only be found in this region of the world, and the ecosystems that support them require extensive preservation efforts to ensure that each of these animals survives. We’ve put together a list of some of the marine life you’ll find during a holiday to Zanzibar.

marine life of zanzibar
Bottlenose Dolphin


Dolphins of various species are part of the amazing marine life in Zanzibar. The Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin, Indo-pacific humpbacked dolphin, and spinner dolphin are three of the most common types of dolphins. Each of these species is distinct, with the spinner dolphin being a long and slender mammal that feeds on fish near coral reefs.

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well-known dolphins on the planet. They are distinguished by their dark grey shape and size, which can range from 6 to 13 feet in length. These dolphins are found almost everywhere, whether they are feeding in coastal waters or out in the open ocean.

While all three of these dolphins can be found in Zanzibar, the Indo-pacific humpbacked dolphin is the rarest.

marine life
Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales can be found off the coast of Zanzibar. This species of whale can reach 36,000 kg and 52 feet in length. Humpback whales are distinguished by their long fins and a head with a number of small knobbed edges. This species of marine life in Zanzibar is one of the most magnificent to see in the wild because they frequently breach. Humpback whales can give birth and breed in the warmer waters off Zanzibar. The water in and around Zanzibar provides these large animals with krill and small fish.

Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are among the superb marine life in Zanzibar and provide unforgettable sightings while snorkelling. The green sea turtle is an endangered turtle species that live in the many oceans of the world. These turtles primarily feed on seagrass, which must be kept healthy in order for their numbers to remain stable. They’re distinguished by their relatively flat body and tear-shaped shell. They move through the ocean using elongated paddle flippers and frequently settle in lagoons where they can easily feed on seagrass.

Zanzibar is home to the extremely endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Although it resembles the green sea turtle in appearance, it differs from it in that it is flatter and has a stickier shell. This sea turtle’s colouring is also not quite as stunning as that of certain other sea turtle species. The final distinguishing characteristic of this sea turtle’s species is its curved beak.

The Hawksbill feeds mostly on sponges, smaller fish, and other organisms that normally live inside coral reefs and relatively shallow lagoons. Sea sponges are still one of this turtle’s favourite foods, so it’s crucial for them to have a steady supply of high-quality food.

Leatherback sea turtles are also known as leathery turtles and are currently listed as threatened. Interestingly, they are one of the world’s largest living turtles and the world’s fourth heaviest reptiles. They are known for their heavy and bony shell and oily flesh that covers the rest of their body.

marine life in Zanzibar
The Rare Dugong


The dugong is a medium-sized marine mammal that is also on the endangered species list. The dugong is a manatee’s close relative and one of the few marine herbivore mammals. Dugongs require a large amount of seagrass to survive. Because healthy seagrass is their primary source of food, many dugongs spend their time in coastal habitats where seagrass meadows grow.

Throughout Zanzibar, dugongs can frequently be found in the same location, but as their population declines, they are becoming harder to find. Dugongs live for about 70 years, and it takes them a while to spawn. Their delayed rate of reproduction and seemingly insatiable appetite for quality seagrass are factors in their declining population size.

marine life in zanzibar
Whale Shark

Whale Shark

Whale sharks are one of the largest fish species and one of the slowest-moving aquatic animals. They are peaceful filter feeders, and despite being a shark species, they eat only plankton found in Zanzibar and along the African coast. These sharks spend the majority of their time in the open ocean and can live for up to 70 years on average.

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