Below you can find a complete list of Indian Ocean animals. We currently track 133 animals in Indian and are adding more every day!
After the Atlantic and the Pacific, the Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world. It extends from Africa to Australia and has coastlines in Asia, Africa, and Australia. It connects to many seas and other large bodies of water. Among them are:
- Andaman Sea.
- Arabian Sea.
- Bay of Bengal.
- Flores Sea.
- Great Australian Bight.
- Gulf of Aden.
- Gulf of Oman.
- Java Sea.
- Mozambique Channel.
- Persian Gulf.
- Red Sea.
- Savu Sea.
- Strait of Malacca.
- Timor Sea.
The Indian Ocean is home to several unique types of animals, including sea turtles, sharks, sea snakes, dugongs, and whales. Although the ocean itself has less marine life than other oceans because of its low plankton levels, you will find a rich array of marine life in specific areas and islands. Some of these species are extremely rare. Many are endangered or nonexistent in other parts of the world.
Where To Find the Indian Ocean’s Wildlife Species
The coral reefs of Africa and Australia are important ecosystems protected by national and international conservation laws. These coral reefs provide feeding and breeding grounds to hundreds of tropical fish species, sea turtles, and other marine animals.
The island country of Madagascar is a primary breeding area for humpback whales. The Maldives and Seychelles Islands provide nesting and feeding areas for shrimp, manta rays, sea turtles, giant grouper, reef sharks, and stingrays.
The island of Mauritius is another island rich in rare marine and animal life. Some unique creatures endemic to Mauritius include the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet, and the Mauritius kestrel, which are among the world’s rarest birds. The island is one of the few places to see the Mauritius flying fox, and the Rodrigues flying fox, two rare bat species.
Spanning over 27 million square miles, it is difficult to distinguish species as “native” to the Indian Ocean. However, there are some endemic creatures roaming the waters, such as several species of shark. Additionally, many islands within the ocean are home to endemic and unique animals.
Supposedly the smallest frog in the world, Gardiner’s tree frog, along with the only flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the white throated rail, are found only in the Seychelles.
Probably the best known for endemic species is Madagascar, a large island surrounded by the Indian Ocean. About 90 percent of all flora and fauna found on the island is endemic to Madagascar. Out of these species, lemurs, cat-like fossa, and orchid species are some of the best known.
Interesting Facts About the Indian Ocean
- It is the warmest ocean on earth.
- More than 40% of the world’s offshore oil production occurs in the Indian Ocean.
- Its primary islands are Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.
Extinct and Endangered Animals in the Indian Ocean
- Sea turtles – Sea turtles are endangered everywhere. These large reptiles can live for many years. Habitat destruction, especially of coral reefs, threatens their survival.
- African penguin – This flightless bird(Spheniscus demersus), also known as the Cape penguin, is native to South Africa. Unlike its cousins, this penguin prefers warm waters and lives on the southern coasts of the continent. Captive breeding programs have helped restore African penguin populations in some areas.
- Aldabra giant tortoise – (Aldabrachelys gigantea): One of the largest reptiles in the world, this enormous creature can live more than 200 years. The largest population of Aldabra tortoises is on the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles. More than 100,000 of them live there.
- Blue whale – The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest species on earth. A blue whale can reach more than 100 feet, which is the length of three school buses. This massive, magnificent creature looks blue in the water but gray-blue when in the air. Blue whales are protected under all whaling conventions and other marine mammal treaties, but they remain critically endangered. Climate change, oil spills, whaling, and plastic pollution continue to threaten them.
- Dugong – This rare marine mammal (Dugong dugon) is a member of the Sirenia family, which includes manatees. This sweet-looking creature was hunted for its oil and meat to near extinction. Dugongs are now a protected species under most laws and are native animals to the coastal water of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Dugongs depend on healthy seagrass communities.
- Angelfish, butterfly fish, and cuttlefish are among the endangered fish of the Indian Ocean. Giant clams, gray reef sharks, manta rays, and spiny dogfish are marine animals unique to this ocean that are facing endangerment or extinction.
Birds in the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean surrounds several countries and islands, providing feeding and breeding space for countless species of seabirds. Seabirds, as the name reveals, spend a majority of their lives at sea. They are also some of the most endangered birds, threatened by overfishing, invasive species, and fishing lines. A decline in population of seabirds is detrimental to marine ecosystems, as these birds create a bridge between land and sea, increasing reef productivity. Following are several examples of birds of the Indian Ocean.
- Albatross – Amsterdam, Black-browed, shy, light-mantled, wandering, grey-headed, Indian yellow-nosed
- Booby – Brown, masked, red-footed
- Tern – Antarctic, bridled, roseate, white, sooty, greater-crested
- Penguin – Gentoo, macaroni, southern rockhopper
- Petrel – Common diving, great-winged, cape, blue, soft-plumaged, black-bellied, grey-backed
Many other seabirds and other bird species exist near the Indian Ocean or on islands bordered by this ocean. Madagascar, the Maldives, Seychelles, and the African coast are ideal destinations for bird watching, inviting people worldwide to some of the most beautiful locations and unique species to see.
Along with unique marine species such as sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, sea snakes, and dugongs, the Indian Ocean holds countless fish, found on the reefs or swimming in the depths. The Indian Ocean is a crucial grounds for fisheries, supplying 14 percent of the global demand for fish caught in the wild. Unfortunately, about 30 percent of these fish are already being overfished, leading to decline in populations. Fisheries also damage seabirds, many of them becoming ensnared in fishing lines and nets, threatening species populations as well.
Fish species popularly bred and caught in fisheries include cuttlefish, squid, tuna, shads, mackerel, sharks, and many more. Rules and regulations have been put into place by conservation organisations along with governments in attempts to prevent negative impacts from fisheries.
Sport fishing is also in high demand in costal regions of the Indian Ocean. Listed are several islands within the Indian Ocean along with popular fishing in the area.
- The Seychelles are of particular interest to anglers in search for marlin, bonefish, Indo-Pacific permit, dogtooth tuna, giant trivially, and the exotic jobfish. Fly fishing is also largely popular in this area.
- Off the coast of Mauritius is also exquisite game fishing. Several fishing records have been broken in this area, such as the blue marlin, a billfish able to grow up to 2,000 lb. Shark catches have also broken world records at over 1,000lb. Sailfish are also a sought after catch along the Mauritian coast.
- Southwest of India lie the Maldives, known for its dependence on fishing for its economy but also to sustain the people of the island. Renowned skipjacks, sailfish, schools of tuna, barracuda, squirrelfish, and sharks swim off the coast of this unique archipelago. The main export of the Maldives is skipjack, also a delicacy on the islands.
While it is exciting to adventure to new and beautiful waters to catch extraordinary fish, it is also important to respect conservation efforts and country guidelines for fishing upon arrival.
The Indian Ocean is known for sparkling blue waters, diversity of nature, and incredible beaches. However, visitors should be wary of certain oceanic creatures, such as sea snakes. Sea snakes of many species are abundant in the Indian Ocean. Only found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, not a lot is known about sea snakes. Almost every sea snake is venomous, not including genus Emydocephalus. Well-adapted to aquatic life, these snakes still breathe air through dorsal nostrils. Genus Laticuda are able to manoeuvre on land to a certain extent, however, most sea snakes are completely adapted to aquatic dwelling. Most common genera of sea snakes found in the Indian Ocean include:
- Aipysurus – olive sea snakes; 9 species
- Hydrophis – sea snakes; 36 species
- Laticauda – sea kraits; 8 species
- Pseudechis; black snakes; 9 species
Where To See Wildlife in the Indian Ocean
In 2015, the British government established the Chagos Marine Protected Area. It is one of the world’s protected areas in the world. Chagos is a former British colony that is part of the 70-island Chagos Archipelago. This area has healthy and diverse coral, which is essential for many ocean species.
Conservationists have spotted more than 780 different species in the protected area. These include unique fish like the Chagos clownfish (Amphiprion chagosensis), manta rays, whale sharks, and tuna. These waters are a protected breeding ground for silky sharks, which are an endangered species.
Besides this and similar large-scale protected areas, each country in the Indian Ocean has its own reserves and protected areas. Mauritius, for instance, has two sea turtle reserves, Fregate Island Turtle Reserve and Pearl Island Turtle Reserve. It also has Baie de l’Arsenal marine park, Black River Gorges National Park, and other preserves.
In 2020, the Seychelles Islands established a vast marine protected area in a deal conducted with the U.S.-based Nature Conservancy. Under the agreement, half of Seychelles’ marine protected areas will be “no-take zones,” which prohibit fishing, mining, and drilling. The others allow strictly regulated fishing.
Protected Dive Sites
The Maldives has established 25 protected dive sites to preserve coral reefs, sea turtles, tropical fish, and endangered white terns. The Maldives has also made it illegal to export dolphins, lobsters, pufferfish, whales, corals, oysters, and other threatened fish species.
The islands of the Indian Ocean offer unique opportunities for snorkelers, scuba divers, and other tourists to see marine life up close. If you want to see this vivid wildlife, visiting the protected areas of these islands is the best way.
The Most Dangerous Animals in the Indian Ocean
- Sea snakes: These long, brightly colored snakes live almost exclusively in the Indian Ocean. They are adapted for ocean life, and some of them never need to venture onto land. Sea snakes are extremely venomous. You don’t feel the bite when it happens, but it can be fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, sea snake bites on humans are very rare.
- Box jellyfish: With no claws or teeth, this watery creature is one of the most dangerous animals in the world. A box jellyfish has 50 or more tentacles, and each tentacle can reach 15 feet. A bite from one tentacle is enough to kill 50 humans. Box jellyfish are also called sea wasps or marine stringers. Scientists estimate that box jellyfish kill more than 100 people every year.
The Indian Ocean boasts a rich array of unique, colorful wildlife in its waters and on its coastlines. Like sea creatures everywhere, these animals face the threats of habitat loss, climate change, overfishing, and plastic pollution. Conservationists hope more countries will take action to halt the destruction of this beautiful, vibrant ocean.
Indian Ocean Animals
Indian Ocean Animals List
- African Penguin
- Albacore Tuna
- Aldabra Giant Tortoise
- Australian Flathead Perch
- Baleen Whale
- Barramundi Fish
- Black Marlin
- Blanket Octopus
- Blue-Ringed Octopus
- Blue Shark
- Blue Whale
- Bluefin Tuna
- Bonito Fish
- Bottlenose Dolphin
- Bull Shark
- Butterfly Fish
- Christmas Island Red Crab
- Cobia Fish
- Conger Eel
- Cookiecutter Shark
- Crappie Fish
- Drum Fish
- Dusky Dolphin
- False Killer Whale
- Fin Whale
- Flying Fish
- Football Fish
- Garden Eel
- Ghost Crab
- Giant Clam
- Great White Shark
- Grey Reef Shark
- Hammerhead Shark
- Hermit Crab
- Hook-Nosed Sea Snake
- Horseshoe Crab
- Humpback Whale
- Immortal Jellyfish
- Indian Palm Squirrel
- Killer Whale
- King Crab
- Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
- Little Penguin
- Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)
- Man of War Jellyfish
- Manta Ray
- Megamouth Shark
- Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish)
- Moon Jellyfish
- Moray Eel
- Reef Shark
- Rockhopper Penguin
- Sand Tiger Shark
- Scorpion Fish
- Sea Anemone
- Sea Eagle
- Sea Lion
- Sea Slug
- Sea Squirt
- Sea Turtle
- Sea Urchin
- Sei Whale
- Sixgill shark
- Skipjack Tuna
- Sleeper Shark
- Sperm Whale
- Spinner Shark
- Spiny Dogfish
- Telescope Fish
- Tiger Shark
- Wahoo Fish
- Wandering Albatross
- Whale Shark
- Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
- Yellowfin Tuna
- Zebra Shark