Animals in Southwest Pacific

Updated: April 22, 2021
Share this post on:


Below you can find a complete list of Southwest Pacific Ocean animals. We currently track 194 animals in Southwest Pacific and are adding more every day!

The southwest Pacific ocean is found south of the equator and from 180 degrees longitude, which is the international dateline to around 135 degrees west longitude. West of this is probably where the Indian ocean begins. The southwest Pacific is especially abundant in unique marine animals and other types of wildlife and is home to many of the Earth’s islands and island nations.

The Official National Animals of Southwest Pacific

Though there doesn’t seem to be a national or state animal of the southwest Pacific Ocean, the countries found there do have national or state animals. They include:

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Southwest Pacific

When it comes to finding the top wildlife in the waters of the southwest Pacific, a person can search the shallow waters of the shore or the deepest depths of the ocean. Some kinds of wildlife are rare and some are abundant. They include:

  • Sea anemones — A sea anemone looks like plants and was named after the anemone flower, but it’s an animal. They attach themselves to solid surfaces such as rocks, shells, or even old shipwrecks and have stinging tentacles with which to catch their prey. Many anemones are beautifully colored and patterned.
  • Sea urchins — These spiny creatures can also be found near the shore. They are protected by spines, and unlike sea anemones, they can move about on tube feet, albeit slowly. They have mouthparts that are so complex that they are the basis for many studies. The sea urchin’s mouth is called Aristotle’s lantern, even though the Greek philosopher used the term to describe the entire animal.
  • Crabs — Crabs such as species of hermit crabs can be found in the waters of the southwest Pacific Ocean. These crabs are famous for wearing empty shells to protect their soft, coiled abdomens. Mole crabs are known for quickly digging themselves into the wet sand of beaches.
  • Black Jack — This large gray or brown fish is found in the deeper parts of the ocean and is notable for long, curved dorsal and anal fins and a large, sloped forehead.
  • Starfish — There are about 1500 species of starfish, and a good number of those species are found in the southwest Pacific. Like sea urchins, they move around thanks to tube feet and have a mouth in the center of their bodies. To eat, they push out their stomach and wrap it around their prey to digest it. Starfish come in a variety of bright colors, from purple to red to a velvety blue. Though many species are indeed star-shaped, other starfish can have as many as 18 arms. Starfish can regrow their arms if they are lost.

Mammals also inhabit the coasts and waters of the southwest Pacific. They include:

  • Elephant seal — These are the largest seals and named for the proboscis found in older males. The southern elephant seal can be found on the New Zealand coast.
  • Dugong — The national animal of Indonesia, this mammal is related to the manatee. It is different from a manatee because its tail has flukes. The manatee’s tail looks more like a paddle. The dugong’s teeth are also unique in that they have tusks, and their teeth aren’t continually replaced as they would be in the manatee. The animal also has heavy, solid bones to keep it below the water’s surface.
  • Killer whale — These striking, intelligent, large dolphins also visit the southwest Pacific. They live in groups, or pods, dominated by a matriarch and are apex predators of the sea.
  • Sperm Whale — These whales, with their unique, huge heads, conical teeth, and complex echolocation skills, can dive to depths of half a mile in their quest for squid.

Birds are also found at the shores and coastlines of the southwestern Pacific. These include:

  • Little Penguin — This penguin, only about 16 inches long, is unique for a penguin in that it is nocturnal. It feeds in the open waters of New Zealand and Southeast Australia, then returns to its colony after sunset. before the sun comes up again, it returns to the water.
  • Wandering Albatross — This bird boasts a wingspan of over 9 feet, and its long and tapered wings allow it to glide with little effort over the waters of the southwest Pacific and other southern oceans and seas. Like the little penguin, it’s nocturnal and feeds on the squid that comes to the surface of the water at night. After it fledges, the albatross spends the first 10 of its 30-year lifespan at sea and only returns to land to breed.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Southwest Pacific Today

Some of the most dangerous animals in southwest Pacific are the smallest and most benign-looking. They include:

  • Cone snail. These sea snails have beautiful, cone-shaped shells that some people can’t resist picking up at the shore or during a diving expedition. But the venom produced by the snail can kill within hours.
  • The blue-ringed octopus. This pretty, tiny, and dangerous octopus lives in tidal pools and gets its name from the blue rings on its body. These rings start to glow and pulsate when the octopus is upset, and when it’s upset it bites. Its venom can quickly kill a human, and there is no antidote.
  • Pacific Man o’ War. This creature is a colony animal that resembles a jellyfish. It is simply carried along by the ocean currents and uses the nematodes on its long tentacles to stun and kill fish and other prey. Many people are also stung by this animal off the coasts of Australia, and though deaths are rare, the sting is incredibly painful.
  • Great White Shark. Though humans aren’t the preferred prey of this huge fish — humans are too gristly for its digestive system — this shark is responsible for dozens of unprovoked attacks in the southwestern Pacific and other places. A small percentage of the attacks result in death to the human.

Endangered Animals

Endangered animals include:

These animals in the Southwest Pacific are endangered due to overfishing, hunting, and by-catches. By-catches are when marine animals are caught in traps and nets not meant for them. Pollution and climate change are also believed to affect the populations of endangered animals.

Southwest Pacific Ocean Animals

Albacore Tuna

The albacore is a very fast swimmer


The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!


Amberjack can grow up to 200 pounds


November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day


There are 70 different species!


The anglerfish has a glowing lure on its head to attract unsuspecting prey

Australian Flathead Perch

This small fish fetches a high price tag, with individuals selling from $1,000 to $5,000.

Baleen Whale

“Sings” a whale song during breeding season.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


Can grow to nearly 2 meters long!

Barramundi Fish

Scale rings indicate age

Barreleye Fish (Barrel Eye)

A barreleye fish's eyes can rotate in their head to look for prey.

Bigfin Reef Squid 

Can change color through use of chromatophores


Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Marlin

Every black marlin is born as a female.

Blanket Octopus

Females can weigh up to 40,000 times more than their partners.

Blue Dragon Sea Slug

They inflict a painful, venomous sting

Blue-Ringed Octopus

The blue-ringed octopus produces some of the deadliest poison in the world

Blue Shark

Blue sharks can have up to 135 pups at a time.

Blue Whale

The largest animal on Earth

Bluefin Tuna

The bluefin is one of the largest fish in the world

Bonito Fish

May eat squid or other small invertebrate ocean life


Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Bottlenose Dolphin

Stays in groups from 15 to 2,000 in number!'

Box Jellyfish

Venomous marine animals


Can release a toxin from its skin

Bull Shark

Unpredictable and aggressive temperament!

Butterfly Fish

There are more than 100 different species!


Also called ghost shark


Chitons are closely related to snails, oysters, and mussels because of their shared phylum

Chromodoris Willani

Their skin is toxic


Also known as the anemonefish!

Cobia Fish

It has teeth not only in its jaws but in its tongue and the roof of its mouth


Cockles live quite long; their lifespan usually ranges from 5 to 10 years in the wild.

Coconut Crab 

The largest terrestrial arthropod in the world

Colossal Squid

Can survive eating a single fish for months

Conger Eel

The European Conger ( Conger conger) can weigh as much as an adult human!

Cookiecutter Shark

The cookiecutter shark takes its name because it leaves a cookie-shaped bite hole in its prey.


There are more than 6000 species of coral in the world's oceans.


There are 93 different crab groups

Crappie Fish

The crappie is one of the most popular freshwater fish in North America.


Found throughout the world's oceans!


Damselfish belong to the family Pomacentridae

Disco Clam

Can spray acidic mucus at predators


Can reach speeds of up to 25 mph!

Dragon Eel

Dragon eels have double jaws and two sets of razor-sharp teeth

Dusky Dolphin

Communicates using whistles, squeaks and clicks!

Eagle Ray

Majestic underwater bird like fish


Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Elephant Seal

The largest species of seal in the world!

False Killer Whale

The false killer whale looks like a cross between a dolphin and orca!


Has the largest teeth compared to body size of any known fish!

Feather Star

Feather stars look like flowers. They have no heart, eyes, or brain.

Fin Whale

Found throughout ocean waters worldwide!


Respire through the gills on their heads!


A flat fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific!

Flounder Fish

There are around 240 different species of Flounder fish


There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Fish

Can glide in the air for hundreds of feet

Football Fish

The football fish is named after its unusual round or oblong shape


Found inhabiting tropical islands and coasts!


The frogfish can change colors, but it takes several weeks to do so

Galapagos Penguin

Found around the Equator!

Galapagos Tortoise

The biggest species of tortoise in the world!

Garden Eel

Garden eel colonies are made up of hundreds to thousands of individuals.

Ghost Crab

Their eyestalks, which are sometimes horned, can swivel 360 degrees

Giant Isopod

Giant isopods are the largest group of isopods in the world

Giant Siphonophore

The giant siphonophore is longer than the largest sea mammal – the blue whale.

Giant Trevally

The largest fish in its genus


The goshawk is a popular choice among European falconers

Great Hammerhead Shark

Great hammerhead sharks have a 360 view because their eyes are situated on the ends of their mallet-like heads.

Great White Shark

Can grow to more than 8 meters long!


Many grouper can change their sex, and it is always from female to male.

Gulper Eel 

Gulper eels have a similar lifespan to humans and can live up to 85 years old. However, their age depends on their habitat and the availability of food.


Can use slime to suffocate marine predators or escape capture

Hammerhead Shark

Found in coastal waters around the world!

Harbor Seal

Harbor seals can dive as deep as 1400 feet

Hardhead Catfish

The hardhead catfish has a sharp spine near its fin to inject venom

Hermit Crab

There are over 500 different species!


People enjoy the taste of the oily fish in many different ways including pickled, smoked, salted, dried and fermented.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake

Sea snakes are the most numerous venomous reptiles on Earth.

Horseshoe Crab

Changed little in over 500 million years!

Humboldt Penguin

Found on the South American coast!

Humboldt Squid

The Humboldt squid can change colors to communicate

Humpback Whale

There are thought to be 80,000 left in the wild!

Immortal Jellyfish

Excellent hitchhiker on long-trip cargo ships


There are an estimated 30 million species!


Have tentacles around their mouths!

John Dory

The John Dory is often labeled one of the ugliest fish in the world and has no known relatives.

Keta Salmon

During spawning the look of the male changes. Among other things, he grows a beak called a kype that bears fangs.

Killer Whale

Typically consumes over 200 kg of food a day!

King Crab

Can have a leg span of nearly 2 meters!


The krill is perhaps the most important animal in the marine ecosystem!


Lancetfish live at depths up to 6,500 feet below sea level

Leopard Shark

Leopard Sharks have teeth with three points.


Females can release up to 15,000 eggs at a time!

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

Though it’s a huge animal, the lifespan of the lion’s mane jellyfish is only a year.


The Livyatan had 1 to 1.2 foot long, interlocking teeth


Have been known to reach 100 years old!


The lumpfish have sticky suction cups on their fins

Magellanic Penguin

Threatened by oil spills!

Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)

It's called the rabbit of the ocean because it multiplies so quickly.

Man of War Jellyfish

Named for an 18th century warship

Manta Ray

Can grow up to 9m wide!

Megamouth Shark

Swims with its mouth open to capture prey


Females lay up to 5 million eggs at one time in warm, shallow and salty waters

Minke Whale

There are two recognised species!


The mojarra's protruding mouth allows it to sift along the seabed for food

Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish)

The ocean sunfish is the biggest bony fish in the world

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellies are bioluminescent, so they glow in the dark! They can also de-age!

Moray Eel

Sometimes, groupers invite moray eels to help them hunt!


They walk on land


Living fossils that evolved over 500 million years ago

Neptune Grouper

The largest recorded specimen ever caught was 17" long


They get toxins from their prey to use it against predators.

Nurse Shark

Commonly found in Central American waters!


The Giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest bony fish in the world.


There are around 300 different species!


They live in deep water as far as 2,600 feet below the water’s surface.

Olive Sea Snake

Olive sea snakes can stay underwater for two hours without taking a breath.


Opah are brightly colored, with red-orange fins and a silvery body.


Can process up to 10 litres of water an hour!


The parrotfish can change from female to male at some point in its life.


Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

Peppermint Angelfish

The peppermint angelfish was only first described in 1992.


The male pipefish has the ability to carry fertilized eggs with him

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders

Porbeagle Shark

The porbeagle is one of the few sharks that jumps out of the water


The Porcupinefish secrete a potent neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin; this poison can kill both people and predators.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


The second most poisonous creature in the world!

Pygmy Shark

Pygmy sharks underbelly glows to attract prey that swims beneath it.


They float with the current.

Reef Shark

Grey reef sharks can give birth without males

Rockhopper Penguin

There are 3 different species!


Fast billfish with a sail-like dorsal fin

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar skeletons make popular collection items for seashell collectors.

Sand Tiger Shark

The sand tiger is the shark most commonly seen in aquariums.


Schools of sardines can be miles long and are often visible from an airplane


Sawfish teeth keep growing as the fish gets older

Sea Anemone

Creatures have characteristics of both animal and plant

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Sea Lion

It's flippers allow it to walk on the land

Sea Slug

All sea slugs have both male and female sex organs

Sea Snake

The sea snake is incredibly venomous, even more than a cobra!”

Sea Squirt

There are more than 3,000 known species!

Sea Turtle

Always return to the same beach to lay eggs!

Sea Urchin

Can live for up to 200 years!


Some gulls are capable of using tools


Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!


There are 30 different species worldwide!

Sei Whale

This whale is one of the fastest of the cetaceans


No shark species has any bones in their bodies

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako sharks can jump 20 feet above the water!”


There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Silky Shark

Has an extremely acute sense of hearing

Sixgill shark

The sixgill shark has six pairs of gills instead of the normal five

Skipjack Tuna

The skipjack is the most commonly caught tuna in the world

Sleeper Shark

The Greenland shark is one of the longest living vertebrates in the world.


There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Sperm Whale

Each tooth weighs 1kg!

Spinner Shark

Can have up to 20 babies

Spiny Dogfish

Found in ocean waters worldwide!


There are more than 9,000 known species!


Some species are known to have 10 arms!


Has 2 stomachs to aid digestion!

Stargazer Fish

Uses an electric shock to stun its prey!


It's stinger is razor-sharp or serrated!


The most venomous fish in the world

Strawberry Hermit Crab

When strawberry hermit crabs find shells that are larger than their own, they gather in a line from biggest to smallest. Once the biggest one sheds its shell, the next one in line will claim it, which is repeated down the line.


Lose their scales and teeth as adults


Found around shallow coral reefs!


Its genus dates back to the Cretaceous period – 113 million years ago

Telescope Fish

Swallows food, much of it larger than them, whole

Thresher Shark

Thresher Sharks have a distinctive, thresher-like tail.


Can be heard out of water


Nests on tropical islands and cliffs!


The tuna has a sleek body that enables it to swim quickly through the water


Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Viper Shark (dogfish)

Most data on these fish is based on observations near Japan.


Viperfish have a bioluminescent spine on their dorsal fin.

Wahoo Fish

Wahoo can change colors when they're excited and while they hunt

Wandering Albatross

Featured in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Whale Shark

The largest species of fish in the world!

White Shark

White Sharks live in all of the world's oceans.


There are more than 500 different species!

Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

Is endemic to Japan.

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

Sea snakes spend approximately 90% of their lives under water.

Yellowfin Tuna

The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species

Yeti Crab

The yeti crab has hairy arms, which collect bacteria to feed on

Southwest Pacific Ocean Animals List

Share this post on:
About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What mammals live in the Pacific Ocean?

Mammals in the Pacific Ocean include whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs, and elephant seals.

What fish live in the Pacific Ocean?

The types of fish that live in the Pacific Ocean defy listing, but some of them are:

Flying fish. These fish don’t actually fly but glide over the water using elongated pectoral fins.

Billfish. These fish are known by their very long bills, which have the look of swords. Indeed, one of them is called the swordfish. Other billfish are marlin and sailfish.

Mackerel. These silvery fish form great schools and serve as food for marine mammals and larger fish such as billfish.

Tuna. Tuna is the only known fish that seem to be warm-blooded, which means they can keep their body temperature higher than the temperature of the surrounding water. Types of tuna found in the southwest Pacific include the albacore, the now rare southern bluefin tuna and the yellowfin tuna.

What plants and animals live in the Pacific Ocean?

Besides wildlife such as fish, sponges, sea squirts, cetaceans, jellyfish and others, the Pacific Ocean has a good amount of plant life. Much of it is microscopic in the form of phytoplankton. These tiny plants include green algae, cyanobacteria, diatoms and dinoflagellates. They provide nourishment for tiny animals such as just-hatched crabs or lobsters, which in turn provide nourishment for larger animals.

On the other end of the scale are types of seaweed, which are defined as plants that simply live in the ocean and are macroscopic. Some types of seaweed, such as Macrocystis can grow to 200 feet in length.