Bonaire’s underwater life

Throughout our various blog posts, we’ve explained how Bonaire, otherwise known as Divers Paradise is a very popular destination thanks to our gorgeous reefs and diverse fish species. As we pointed out in our previous blog post- Bonaire: Divers Paradise, we have over 350 sorts of fish species! During a dive, you are guaranteed to come across a few of these! Therefore, we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to share some of our fish species.


Parrotfish are a family of brightly colored fish that can be found in our shallow waters. These fish are named for their beak-like mouth, which they use to scrape algae off of coral reefs. If you listen closely, you will be able to hear the scraping sound of their teeth on the corals/rocks. It is also interesting to note that Parrotfish are very important to Bonaire’s ecosystem, they help to keep coral reefs healthy by preventing the overgrowth of algae. You can definitely find snaps of them on our Instagram!


Butterflyfish are a family of small fish that can be found around Bonaire’s coral reefs. These fish are known for their unique markings and patterns, which resemble the wings of a butterfly. They have various patterns, some with black and white stripes, others with a black dot surrounded by white. Butterflyfish feed on a variety of small invertebrates and algae.

Sergeant Major

The sergeant major is also a small fish, silver-colored with a distinctive yellow stripe running down its spine. These fish are found in large schools around Bonaire’s coral reefs and are known for their curiosity toward divers and snorkelers. If you’ve been to the Salt Pier with us, you will have seen that these fish lay their eggs on the pillars of the pier. The male will spend weeks guarding the nest until the eggs hatch and constantly chase off predators. While on the dive, you may feel something on your fin, this will be the protective Sergeant Major, who thought you were too close to its eggs (don’t worry it doesn’t hurt)!


The barracuda is a predatory fish, this silver fish is long and slender in shape and has sharp teeth. You can find black spots on their lower and rear body. They are commonly spotted near the Salt Pier, hiding in the shadows. They feed on a variety of small fish and invertebrates. They are a favorite to spot amongst divers!


Tarpons can sometimes be mistaken as a Barracuda due to their similar shape and silver coloring, however, they do not have black spots. Research shows that tarpons have been swimming in our oceans since prehistoric times. They are toothless fish, so they swallow their prey whole. During a night dive, you will have most likely heard our instructors tell you that your flashlight may attract Tarpons, this is because they can use your light to hunt.

Smooth Trunkfish

If you’ve been snorkeling in our waters, you’ve most likely seen this quirky fish. They have a very unique bulky shape, somewhat like a trunk, hence the name. They are covered in black polka-dotted spots and have eyes and snouts that are very projected. Trunkfish are very friendly. They feed on invertebrates and can produce a toxin through their body mucus as a defense mechanism, therefore you cannot eat them!


Lionfish are an invasive species in Bonaire’s waters. They are a threat to Bonaire’s coral reefs and native fish species, as they have no natural predators in the area. These fish are known for their striking shape and coloring, with red and white stripes running down their body. Lionfish are carnivorous and feed on a variety of small fish and invertebrates.

Help save the reef and become a lionfish hunter! In this specialty course, you will learn about the anatomy and behavior of this invasive species. Such as how they got to Bonaire and how we can humanely and safely remove them. Learn more about this course on our website.

Moray Eel

Moray eels are often found hiding in crevices and/or under rocks near the reef, therefore, seeing a free-swimming one is a big treat! Another fantastic creature to spot while on a dive! This predator is long and slender with green coloring. They have large mouths filled with sharp teeth and feed on a variety of small fish and invertebrates. Moray eels are generally shy and prefer to avoid encounters with humans. If they feel threatened, they may open their mouths to display their sharp teeth and release a warning scent.


These gorgeous and enchanting creatures add to the rich marine biodiversity of Bonaire. Their unique appearance, behaviors, and ecological role make them a special sight for divers and snorkelers exploring the island. Their bodies are covered in bony plates and they have a very distinctive snout and tail. They feed on small crustaceans and plankton. Seahorses are able to mimic the color and texture of their surroundings, such as seagrasses, coral, or sponges. This helps them blend into their habitat and camouflage themselves.

French Angelfish

The French angelfish is another gorgeous fish, known for its size, coloring, and unique patterns. They have thin bodies and small mouths. Colored black, with yellow stripes and hints of blue. As adults, French angelfish can grow up to 38 cm (15 inches) in length. French angelfish feed on a variety of small invertebrates and algae.

These are only some of the fascinating and beautiful underwater species to be found, as there are many we haven’t mentioned, such as the spotted eagle ray, grunts, frogfish, turtles, octopuses, and more; the list goes on. However, we can conclude that Bonaire’s waters are home to a diverse array of fish species, each with their own unique characteristics and behaviors. From the brightly colored parrotfish to the predatory moray eel, there is no shortage of fascinating fish to observe and admire in Bonaire’s crystal-clear waters. Remember to always respect the underwater world and life, do not touch or move anything, you are a guest there.

Whether you are a seasoned scuba diver or a casual snorkeler, exploring Bonaire’s coral reefs and marine life is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. Book your guided dive with us and our instructors will gladly show you our gorgeous reefs. Make sure to check out our Instagram too where we share content of all the underwater life we find and of our divers!