Read on to find out more about some of our most common reef fish that you’ll be able to encounter whilst diving in Bonaire’s National Marine Park. Our ocean addicted dive staff are happy to introduce you to them all. Many of these reef fish make for the perfect subject during the PADI Digital Underwater Imaging specialty. Find out how you can capture the perfect photo of them and create memories for a lifetime!
Parrotfish can be identified by their distinct beak and bright colours that give this group their family name. They are among the most common fish seen on our reefs, so you will find them at all the dive sites on Bonaire. This is also a good indicator of a healthy coral reef! Their beaks are used to graze on the algae that grows on coral. At night, parrotfish secrete a mucus membrane which surrounds them like a bubble and masks their scent from nocturnal predators. Fun fact: Parrotfish are responsible for the existence of many white sandy beaches, as they ground up corals and excrete this as sand!
Angelfish have long dorsal and anal fins, rounded foreheads and a spine extending from the rear cheek over their lower gill cover. You will find this beautiful fish swimming gracefully around the reef, whilst feeding on sponges. Juvenile angelfish have an important role in the ecosystem as they often clean parasites off of larger fish. The Queen Angelfish is one of the prettiest and most colourful fish you will encounter here on our reefs!
Butterflyfish are small and colourful reef fish with white, yellow and black markings on their bodies. Their eyes are concealed by dark bars on the head along with false eyespots, which are adaptations intended to confuse predators. They also have a prominent snout which makes them one of the few fish adapted to feed on coral polyps. Butterflyfish live in pairs for life and can often be found swimming together on the reef.
Trumpetfish can typically be found in three colour variations: brown, purple and yellow. They are often found hanging vertically, camouflaged within the branches of gorgonian corals and ambush predators that consume small reef fish. Also known as shadow-feeders, they sometimes stalk their prey while swimming alongside other reef fish like parrotfish, using them as a cover.
Drumfish are beautiful black and white fish, partially spotted and partially striped. They are found under ledges, jetties and near small caves during the day. They are solitary and mostly active at night when they hunt for crabs, shrimp and worms. Their common name is derived from their ability to vibrate muscles surrounding their swim bladders to produce a resonant sound when they feel threatened.
Trunkfish are easily recognized by their black protrusible mouth and spotted, triangular shape. They swim slow, relying on their armour and toxins for protection. They hunt small invertebrates by jetting water from their mouths to shift sand and locate their prey. Adult trunkfish are already very cute because of their tiny fins, but wait until you see a juvenile one!
Damselfish are energetic little fish that spend their days busily patrolling a private algae patch that is defended from intruders. Damselfish farm their algae on the corals and even divers are not immune to the assaults of these feisty fish! Luckily, they are tiny and their defences don’t result in anything more than a little peck on our fins.
Spotted Eagle Ray
Spotted Eagle Rays are an all-time favourite of many under water photographers. These rays have a white underside and possess a pronounced head with a flattened, tapered snout. Eagle rays are carnivores that specialize in eating hard-shelled prey such as conch, clams, crabs and lobsters. They have electro-receptors in their snout to help search for buried prey, and can often be found feeding in shallow sandy areas.