It is obvious that land animals and plants have not made these islands popular with nature lovers; the real beauty and variety lies in the underwater zone, just as it is to be found in the changing color of the sky above.
The creator of all the underwater beauty is the polyp that is truly the architect and engineer of the coral reef. It secretes a cup-like calcareous skeleton into which it can withdraw. Multiplying by successive budding, an intricate structure of polyp cups is eventually formed and is attached to a submerged rock platform. The colony grows whenever the depth is short enough for light to pierce, a condition, which prevails in shallow lagoons.
Eventually reefs are formed and these enclose shallow saltwater lakes called lagoons. Soon the decayed and dead coral is broken into fragments and sediments of decaying organic matter, which, along with droppings of birds, combine with it on the reef to give a fertile soil.
Since the rate of nutrient turnover is high, the variety of animal life that establishes itself in the atoll environment is indeed vast. Coral reefs and lagoons shelter the most complex and organized community of living creatures of the sea.
It is impossible to forget the sight of the shoals of tiny but colorful fish darting in and out of coral branches or languid anemones. Lakshadweep reefs abound in more than a thousand species of fish, all dazzling in color and weird in pattern and shape.
To heighten the sense of adventure of a skin diver, deadly rays are often seen on the shallows of reef flats. These, along with the poisonous stonefish, camouflage themselves so effectively on coral ledges and rocks that they are almost impossible to make out.
Seashells are a constant source of delight for a visitor. The reef flats are almost totally exposed except for shallow tide pools at low tide. A trip to them is immediately rewarding: attached to rocks or stones are the hydroids, sponges, corals and sea anemones. Trapped between the tides, taking shelter under boulders or in shallow pools, are bottom dwelling marine invertebrates like sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea cucumbers.