Finding Nemo – Great Barrier Reef

Nemo is famous. Thanks to the world of animated movies, this brave little fish has been beamed into homes globally, and few people would fail to recognise his distinctive orange body and white stripes.

However, did you know that Clownfish are just one of several Anemonefish you may see on a visit to Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef? 12 species of Anemonefish inhabit Australian waters. All can easily be seen snorkelling or diving. On Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef you can find Nemo and his friends.

All Anemonefish share one common trait, they live in sea anemones. Sea anemones require sunlight for photosynthesis and for this reason, they are generally found in clear, shallow waters. These soft bodied organisms have stinging cells in their tentacles, which the Anemonefish protect themselves from with a mucus body covering.

Sea anemones vary in size, as does the population of Anemonefish that may inhabit them, growing anywhere from one pair to several fish. All Anemonefish communities are dominated by a large female, who shares her home with smaller males.

Interestingly, Anemonefish are one of the few fish species that hatches as a male, but can turn itself into a female if circumstances require. This is known as Protandrous Hermaphroditism. If the female in the colony dies, then the dominant male becomes the female. In turn, a smaller male will become the dominant male of the sea anemone home.

Anemonefish eggs are laid in or near the anemone, and tended by the adults. Juvenile Anemonefish are adorable and move very fast! In fact, just one day after hatching, these cute little critters can move 9.5 body lengths per second – making them faster than most Olympic swimmers! If you are lucky enough to see one, you will be mesmerised by its beauty and speed.

We have spent many days and dives exploring Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef and the northern Ribbon Reefs. In our travels we frequently come across five different types of Anemonefish: Clown, Pink, Clark’s, Black and Spine-cheek Anemonefish.

With their distinctive and unique colouring, each of these Anemonefish is delightful to watch as they dart in and out of their sea anemone homes.

Clown Anemonefish

Clown Anemonefish

Pink Anemonefish

Pink Anemonefish

Clark’s Anemonefish

Clark’s Anemonefish

Black Anemonefish

Black Anemonefish

Spine-cheek Anemonefish

Spine-cheek Anemonefish

One More

One More

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) are definitely the most recognisable, thanks to Nemo. These little orange fish have three white vertical bands, bordered in black, and grow to around 11cm (4.3 inches). Strangely, these are the Anemonefish you are least likely to see when visiting Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef, we’re not sure if it’s due to their popularity with aquarium owners, or just general distribution.
Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) are the ones we see most frequently, often living in the most magnificent sea anemone homes. Growing up to 10cm long, Pink Anemonefish have a light pink/orange body, with a white stripe running down their back and either side of their face and white tail.

Clark’s Anemonefish (also known as the Great Barrier Reef Anemonefish) is another one we see quite a lot off Cairns. Its colouring is similar to the Clown Anemonefish, having an orange body, but with only two vertical white stripes bordered in black and a white tail. Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) grow to around 12cm long.
Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) have a large white, vertical stripe separating their orange head from their black body. Fins are generally light orange and the white stripe appears luminous against the black body. Apparently some examples of this species can lack the white stripe altogether, although we have never seen this ourselves.
Spine-cheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus) are perhaps the most interesting to look at, with their ‘fluffy’ fins coming out of their faces, belly, back and tail. Body colour varies from dull to dark red and it’s considered one of the most aggressive of the Anemonefish species. Spine-cheek Anemonefish also have thin white vertical stripes running down their bodies.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,600 fish species and we see something new on each and every visit.


Lady enjoying the water-slide at Moore Reef.

Sunlover Cruises

Great day tour for people of all ages. Visit Outer Reef Pontoon at Moore Reef, with lots of inclusions: snorkelling, glass bottom boat and semi-sub tours, underwater observatory and more.
Tusa at the Reef

Tusa Dive T6

Tusa Dive provide quality Great Barrier Reef snorkel / dive day tours on one of Cairns' newest reef day boats, T6. Up to 5 hours on the reef, visiting 2 locations. Great service - all meals included.
Silverswift At The Reef

Silverswift Dive & Snorkel

Only Cairns Great Barrier Reef day tour to visit 3 different reef sites in one day! Part of the Quicksilver Cruises fleet. Comfortable, high speed catamaran. Up to 5 hours at the reef.
Evolution Dive Boat Cairns

Down Under Dive: Evolution

Well priced Great Barrier Reef day tour, including BBQ lunch. 5 hours on the reef at 2 reef sites. Free guided snorkeling tours, introductory and certified diving are available at extra cost. Brand new boat.

Deep Sea Divers Den: Reef Quest

Value for money Great Barrier Reef day tour. Visits 2 reef sites. Perfect for snorkellers, certified divers and those wanting to try an introductory dive. Buffet lunch included.
Reef Magic Outer Reef Scuba Diving

Reef Magic Cruises

Up to 5 hours at the reef. Outer Great Barrier Reef pontoon with fabulous coral gardens. Meet Wally! Lots of inclusions: snorkelling, glass bottom boat, semi-sub, underwater observatory and more.
Great Adventures Green Island & Reef Package

Great Adventures: Green Island & Great Barrier Reef

This is the only Cairns day tour to combine time on Green Island with a visit to a Great Barrier Reef pontoon. Best of both worlds. Suitable for snorkellers and divers.
The Passions of Paradise boat Cairns Australia

Passions Of Paradise

Australian Tourism Award Winner. Daily dive / snorkel trips to Michaelmas Cay & Paradise Reef on 25m sailing catamaran. Free scuba demonstration & guided snorkel tour. Hot / cold buffet lunch.
Fully inclusive Great Barrier Reef day tours with Reef Experience

Reef Experience

Cairns' only fully inclusive day tour, including: city transfers, trip to Great Barrier Reef, 6 hours on reef, 2 reef locations, meals, free scuba dive, marine biologist presentation & equipment.
Cairns Dive Centre Day Boat - MV Reef Kist

M.V. Reef Kist – Cairns Dive Centre (Island Diver)

Great value one of Cairns cheapest day boats to the Great Barrier Reef. Full day snorkeling visiting 2 x Reef Locations. Includes lunch and all snorkel gear.
Great Adventures Day Boat

Great Adventures: Outer Reef

Leaves later than most (10am) and provides up to 3 hours at their outer reef pontoon. Enjoy the sun deck, underwater observatory, semi-submersible and many optional extras.

Silversonic Dive & Snorkel

Silversonic provides daily reef tours departing from Port Douglas and visiting the ribbon reefs at Agincourt Reef. 5 hours at reef and up to 3 dives.

Ocean Spirit Cruises Cairns

Ocean Spirit Cruises provide a luxury sailing catamaran to Michaelmas Cay. This trip is suited to swimmers, snorkelers and families. Often Sea Turtles are seen from the beach. All meals included.

Seastar Cruises

Seastar provides daily dive and snorkel tours to Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef. Up to 5 hours at the reef and 2 guided snorkel tours included.
Poseidon Dive Boat with Divers

Poseidon Snorkel and Dive

Poseidon provides daily tours from Port Douglas to the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, visiting three (3) separate reef sites. Suitable for scuba divers and snorkelers. Great passenger to crew ratio.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Reef Boat

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Cruises

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel offers a great value for money option that spends 5 hours at a beautiful reef location. Free guided snorkel tour, glass bottom boat tour and marine presentation.

Deep Sea Divers Den: Sea Quest

Value for money Great Barrier Reef day tour. Visits 2 reef sites. Perfect for snorkellers, certified divers and those wanting to try an introductory dive. Buffet lunch included.

Aqua Quest Dive Port Douglas

Aqua Quest provides daily reef tours departing from Port Douglas and visiting Agincourt Reef, St Crispin Reef, and Opal Reef. Nitrox available on board.

Search for Tours:

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Cairns Reef Information

Click the links below to find out more.

Do You Need Help Choosing?

Do you need help choosing a trip?

Can't decide? We have personally been on every Cairns reef and diving trip. We can help you choose the best tour, to suit your experience and budget.



Cairns Underwater Camera Hire Service

Spend over $550.00 AUD on your Great Barrier Reef tour with us and receive the latest Digital Underwater Camera Hire. Take amazing High-Resolution images and 1080 HD Video.

Not available for any tours to the Islands as fine white sand damages the seals on the cameras and makes them leak!

You need to come into our shop located on the Cairns Esplanade the day before departure to pick up the camera before 5:30 pm. You also need to supply your own SD Camera Card and drop the camera off back at our shop before 6:00pm.