Cheeka Rocks

Cheeca Rocks is not a pile of rocks, but a living, breathing collection of billions of living organisms no larger than the head of a pin. These communal animals are called coral polyps. Millions of coral polyps produce enormous formations called coral heads. Cheeca Rocks is a grouping of numerous coral heads (mostly brain and star coral). Together these have produced a patch reef. Patch reefs are always surrounded by a ring of white sand within a vast expanse of turtle grass. Because of its location within a mile from shore, Cheeca Rocks is called a near shore patch reef. 4 yellow buoys have been placed on each corner of this area to indicate that it is a special preservation area (SPA). No fishing, lobstering, or collecting is allowed within an SPA. A number of anchor buoys are provided to prevent anchor damage to the fragile and slow-growing corals.

Types of coral heads that can be seen here include mountainous star coral, brain coral, and lettuce coral. Other forms of hard corals abound, fire coral, finger coral, staghorn coral. And numerous soft corals: sea fans, whips, plumes, rods.

Every color of the rainbow is found in the tropical fish that dance over, around and under the corals. A distance cousin of Dory, the blue tang, can be seen here often, but you never will find Nemo.

Some of the shallowest snorkeling is here, only 3 feet to the tops of the 7 foot tall coral heads. So beginner snorkelers can still see lots of fish without ever having to dive under. But the more advanced snorkeler can free dive to the bottom at 10-12 feet to look into the canyons and crevices for the more secluded tropical fish, such as the colorful royal gramma and neon goby.
Fish cleaning often occurs here. A fish will hover over a coral head giving signals to the cleaner fish that it is ready to be cleaned of its parasites. The tiny cleaner fish, a neon goby, juvenile bluehead wrasse or other, will hop onto its patient and remove all the parasites, even going into the mouth and gills.