Describe an Aquatic Animal: IELTS Speaking (3 Cue Cards With Example Answers)

The cue card might ask you to describe an aquatic animal in part 2 of your IELTS Speaking test. This might seem like a difficult question, but with a good strategy and some nice vocabulary, and a story or two, you can give a great answer to an aquatic animal cue card, no problem.

In this post, we’ll look at what you can talk about, tips for part 2, and three great example answers (go straight to the answers here). 

What Are Aquatic Animals?

An aquatic animal is any animal that lives in the water (all of the time or most of the time). This includes fish. Here are some examples:

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, catfish, trout…)
  • Whale
  • Dolphin
  • Shark
  • Crocodile
  • Octopus (plural: octopi)
  • Jellyfish
  • Turtle
  • Starfish
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Clam
  • Oyster
  • Squid
  • Snail
  • Mussel
  • Seal
  • Walrus
  • Manatee
  • Otter

What You Can Talk About

When describing an aquatic animal, you can talk about:

  • What it looks like 
  • Where it lives
  • How it behaves
  • What it eats
  • Interesting habits it has
  • If it’s a predator or prey 
  • When you saw one before (on TV, at the aquarium, etc)
  • If you’d like to see one up close
  • If you like it or not
  • If it’s a dangerous animal or poisonous
  • If you’ve eaten it before
  • What it tastes like
  • If you’d like to have it as a pet
  • Anything else you can think of

Places You Can See an Aquatic Animal

It’s a good idea to tell a story about a time when you saw an aquatic animal. Stories really help you to keep talking in part 2.

Here are some places you might see an aquatic animal:

  • Ocean
  • Sea
  • Lake
  • River
  • Stream
  • Reservoir
  • Aquarium
  • Marine park
  • Zoos with an aquatic animal exhibit
  • Documentary on TV
  • Movie
  • Fishing trip
  • Snorkeling excursion
  • Scuba diving
  • Swim with dolphins attraction
  • Whale-watching tour
  • Seafood restaurant with aquarium tanks
  • Underwater cave
  • Hot springs with natural pools
  • Waterfall with a pool
  • Marine conservation area
  • Pond in your local park

Use Interesting Vocabulary

In your part-2 answers, it’s best to focus on vocabulary. If you worry about grammar, you’ll find it difficult to keep speaking.

So just focus on saying lots of things and using some interesting vocabulary. 

You can use word groups to help with this. A word group is a list of interesting words and phrases that can describe a certain aspect of something.

So for this question about aquatic animals, you can use the ‘dangerous object’ or ‘unusual object’ word group. Or perhaps you could use the ‘exciting event’ word group to talk about a time you went scuba diving and saw this animal. 

You can learn more about how to use word groups here. 

Interesting Vocabulary To Describe Aquatic Animals

  • Graceful
  • Colorful
  • Flowing
  • Slippery
  • Scaly
  • Swift
  • Elusive
  • Sleek
  • Mysterious
  • Glistening
  • Agile
  • Mesmerizing
  • Iridescent
  • Elegant
  • Fin
  • Scale
  • Tail
  • Gills
  • Mouth
  • Reef
  • Current
  • School
  • Spawn
  • Habitat
  • Coral
  • Plankton
  • Swim bladder
  • Dorsal fin
  • Pectoral fin

Example Answers

Now let’s look at three good sample answers to this question. Pay attention to the interesting vocabulary and idiomatic language used in these answers.

Also, each answer uses a word group for vocabulary ideas, and at least one story. Perhaps you can borrow a few ideas for your own answer. 

Aquatic Animal Cue Card 1

Describe an aquatic animal.

You should say:

  • What kind of animal it is
  • What you know about this animal
  • Where you can see it

And say why you think this animal is so interesting. 

I’m going to talk about sharks. Sharks have always been a source of both fear and fascination for me. It wasn’t until I saw a great documentary about these amazing creatures that I really began to understand why they are so intriguing. It was very eye-opening. 

I had no idea how strange, interesting, scary, and cool sharks really are. Did you know that sharks have been around for hundreds of millions of years? They’re one of the oldest animals in the world. They’re the perfect hunters of nature, I think. Sharks are also incredibly fast. As far as I can remember, sharks can swim at 50 or 60 miles per hour. That’s extraordinary!

I’m glad I saw that documentary, it gave me a totally new perspective on something that I had previously only seen as frightening. I think their teeth and speed make them captivating and terrifying. No human could ever out-swim a shark. They are just killing machines. 

When I was quite young I saw a famous movie called Jaws. It is about these shark hunters who go out into the sea to try to catch this one giant shark. But in the end, the shark is too big for their boat and the shark starts hunting them. It’s such a scary, well-made movie. I remember it really spurred my curiosity. It left me wanting to learn more about sharks. 

I’d like to see sharks at an aquarium. It would be great to see them up close and personal. I think I’ll visit the aquarium in my city one day and take lots of pictures while I’m there. That’s pretty much all I know about sharks. 

Word Group Used: Interesting Event

In this answer, we focused on describing an interesting experience where we saw sharks. This made it easy to tell a story. And we used lots of words and idioms from the ‘interesting event’ word group:

  • Fascinating
  • Intriguing
  • Captivating
  • Eye-opening
  • Blew my mind 
  • Extraordinary 
  • Weird and wonderful facts 
  • Really spurred my curiosity 
  • I was drawn in by it 
  • I had no idea how strange/interesting/scary/cool it is
  • I learned so much
  • Never stop learning 
  • The importance of learning 
  • Left me wanting more 
  • Gave me a totally new perspective on something 
  • Picked his brain 
  • A life-changing event 

Learn more about how to use word groups to improve your IELTS vocabulary for speaking here.

Aquatic Animal Cue Card 2

Describe an aquatic animal.

You should say:

  • What this animal looks like
  • Where it lives
  • Where you’ve seen one before

And say why you like or dislike this animal. 

I’d like to talk about the octopus. The octopus is a strange and fascinating creature. With its eight arms and ability to change color and texture, the octopus is really quite outlandish, like something from another world. They’re very colorful and can grow quite large. 

Octopi have a curious way of behaving, using its eight arms to move around in a seemingly effortless manner. In addition to its strange and wonderful appearance, the octopus has a few other habits that make it stand out. For example, they are known to be able to squeeze through tight spaces and escape from predators by leaving behind a cloud of ink. These abilities make the octopus even more exotic and out of the ordinary.

I had the opportunity to see a large octopus at an aquarium last year, and it was an exceptional experience. At first, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was camouflaged so I could barely see it. Then suddenly it moved very quickly. Its movements were so peculiar and unexpected, unlike any other animal. I couldn’t help but watch it for a while. 

I’ve tried eating octopus a few times at seafood restaurants. It’s quite popular in Spain, which I visit often. It’s really tasty, but I think they only serve these small octopi called calamari. I recommend it if you ever visit Spain. 

Word Group Used: Unusual Object

During this answer, we focused on describing octopi as a very unusual animal, using the ‘unusual object’ work group:

  • Weird
  • Strange
  • Weird and wonderful 
  • Exotic 
  • Extraordinary 
  • Outlandish 
  • Peculiar 
  • Unexpected 
  • Exceptional 
  • Strange habits 
  • Rare
  • Curious way of behaving 
  • Out of the ordinary 
  • Out of this world 
  • Like something from another world 
  • Couldn’t make heads or tails of it
  • Few and far between 
  • Took a while to get to grips with it

Aquatic Animal Cue Card 3

Describe an aquatic animal.

You should say:

  • What this animal looks like
  • How it survives
  • What part of the world it lives in

And say why you like this aquatic animal.

I’m going to talk about my goldfish. As a proud owner of several goldfish, I can tell you that these stunning creatures make the perfect pets. There’s just something about goldfish that makes them so attractive. Perhaps it’s their shimmering scales or their graceful swimming style. Maybe it’s the way they light up my fish tank, adding a decorative touch to my home. 

I have some really exquisite goldfish in my tank at home. They vary in color. They’re vibrant orange, shimmering red, and glittering yellow. I find it quite peaceful, watching them swim around all day. Their movements are mesmerizing. It’s a little hypnotic and I find it very soothing. 

When it comes to feeding my goldfish, I’m very diligent. I feed them twice a day, ensuring that they receive a balanced diet that is designed to keep them healthy and vibrant. I’ve learned that the key to keeping these fish happy and healthy is to maintain a consistent feeding schedule and to keep their water clean and well-maintained.

I first bought my goldfish several years ago, when I was looking for a way to add some life and color to my home. At the time, I was living in a small apartment, and I felt like something was missing. That’s when I stumbled upon a pet store that sold goldfish, and I was immediately drawn to them. 

And to be honest, the best thing about owning goldfish is how easy they are to care for. You don’t need to take them for walks as you do with dogs, or anything like that. Just keep them well-fed and they’re happy!

Word Group Used: Beautiful Object

Here, we focused on describing goldfish as very beautiful, using the many interesting words from the ‘beautiful object’ work group:

  • Beautiful
  • Attractive
  • Exquisite 
  • Striking
  • Stunning 
  • Graceful
  • Stylish 
  • Elegant 
  • Pretty 
  • Alluring 
  • Adorable 
  • Charming 
  • Quirky
  • Feminine
  • Decorative
  • Bejeweled
  • Ornate
  • Distinctive 
  • Eye-catching 
  • Glittering
  • Shimmering 
  • Flashy 

Learn more about word groups here.

Now It’s Your Turn

Okay, are you ready to try this question yourself?

Set up the recorder on your phone and also start a timer for 60 seconds. 

Quickly prepare a few notes, focusing on:

  • What you’re going to talk about
  • Interesting words and idioms you might use

When the 60 seconds is finished, start talking!

Try to keep speaking for two minutes without stopping. Afterward, you can listen to your answer and think about how to improve upon it.

This is a wonderful way to get ready for part 2 of your IELTS Speaking test.

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