Another crew favorites list, this time we share our favorite Bonaire fish (and other sea creatures).
Frogfish – Robert
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You can’t have a Bonaire fish list without the frogfish. The most common in Bonaire is the Longlure Frogfish which has a modified dorsal spine that resembles a pole tipped with a lure. They are a lie-in-wait predator and use their lure and excellent camouflage to attract hungry or curious fish. When the prey is in near, the frogfish will open its mouth up to 12 times the normal size in about 6 milliseconds (the fastest strike of any vertebrate predator) sucking water and lunch into its stomach.
You can normally find frogfish hiding on sponges or algae covered rocks/coral. They can slowly change color (several hours or even weeks) to match their surroundings making them difficult to spot. When they do move they generally “walk” using their pectoral fins like feet. They can swim waving their body and tail or also forcing mouthfuls of water through the gills.
The house reef in front of Yellow Submarine and Something Special (just to north) are excellent dive sites to find frogfish.
Seahorse – Ann-Marie
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You also can’t make a Bonaire fish list without the seahorse. The Longsnout Seahorse is the most common on Bonaire. They are all over the reefs but extremely difficult to find and come in many different colors.
The male seahorse will brood the eggs in a ventral brood pouch and when fully developed, the baby sea horses are expelled and off on their own.
A common misconception about seahorses is that they mate for life. They will sometimes pair up for a breeding season but will also readily switch mates. During courtship, seahorses will often grip the same branch of coral/sponge or swim side by side linking tails.
You can often find seahorses at Cliff, the house reef of Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis.
Spotted Eagle Ray – Gift
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The 2nd largest ray in the Caribbean (Giant Manta is the 1st), the Spotted Eagle Ray is easily identifiable by its dark back covered in small white spots, and long thin tail.
They are often seen cruising along the reef and don’t stick around for long but if you are lucky you may see one digging in the sand for mollusks at Cha Cha Cha Beach in front of Dive Friends Bonaire @ Dive Inn
Sharpnose Puffer – Carolyn
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A common fish on Bonaire but often overlooked because of its small size. Like other puffers, the Sharpnose Puffer can draw in water to inflate its body as a defense making it harder for predators to swallow them. Never harass puffers to make them inflate!
These small puffers can usually be found hiding among soft corals.
Juvenile Smooth Trunk Fish – Kaj
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Adult trunkfish can be found on almost every dive but it’s a real treat when you find a juvenile. “Pea”, “Bumblebee”, “Dice”; they have many nicknames depending on the size stage of development. They awkwardly swim and hide in coral heads.
The Smooth Trunkfish is a member of the boxfish family which have a bony triangular skeleton. The Smooth Trunkfish is the most common in Bonaire but you can also find the Spotted Trunkfish and the even less common Buffalo Trunkfish.
Ocean Triggerfish – Ilsa
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Triggerfish get their name from the front dorsal fin and connected second spine which resembles a trigger when erect. As a protection from predators, triggerfish can lock the dorsal fin with the second spine wedging themselves in coral or making it more difficult to swallow. They swim with their dorsal and anal fins often leaning from one side to the other.
The Ocean Triggerfish is a uniform gray color but can darken or lighten dramatically. They are often seen at Cha Cha Cha Beach in front of Dive Friends Bonaire @ Dive Inn.
Octopus – Christina
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Bonaire is home to a couple of different species of octopus; the Common Octopus (fitting name) and the Atlantic Longarm Octopus.
Octopuses (Octopodes if you want to use the Greek pluralization) are one of the most fascinating underwater creatures and have been studied extensively. They are extremely intelligent and masters of escape able to squeeze through anything larger than their beak.
They are also masters of camouflage which can make finding them difficult. Sometimes you will find a pile of emtpy shells which marks an octopus lair.
Lettuce Sea Slug – Chris
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The most common sea slug on Bonaire, the Lettuce Sea Slug is named after the ruffles of skin on its back that resemble leaf lettuce. They are usually a pale green but can also be tinted blue or red. The number of ruffles is also highly variable, some with a single ruffle and others with hundreds.
They can be found most often on the top reef sitting on coral and rocks.
Bluespotted Cornetfish – Alex
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At first glance it looks like a Trumpetfish, but the Bluespotted Cornetfish can grow much larger (up to 1.6 m / 5.2 ft) and has a long tail that comes to a point. This tail is lined with sensory pores that help it detect prey.
There are very few sightings on Bonaire so if you see one come by and let us know!