I find it very hard to name the corals. Looking in the guide, reading the descriptions… I’m never sure which one it is. So, some have common names, and if I’m wrong, sorry.
Star corals / Staghorn coral
The mountainous star coral made a big impression on me during my first visits. The first 3 pictures are from 1986. Then 2 storms hit Bonaire and these corals mountains were destroyed (picture 4). But the corals are growing back. It will take some time to reach the impressive size.
The staghorn coral grows in shallow water. During the first visits this coral was seen everywhere. It was fun to snorkel around them, there was always a lot of (young) fish to see. It made the entering difficult. At some place, like Karapata and Nukove, you had to find your way through a maze to get to the open water. Then a disease did a lot of damage. But the storms wiped them out. All the way to the drop-off they were gone. The shores were covered with the death corals. It is a fast growing coral and the last years you see them coming back. Now they get help from Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB). They created nurseries to grow staghorn and elk corals. When the corals are big enough, they are transplanted.
There are 3 Scolymia, disk corals in the Caribbean. It’s almost impossible to determine from a picture. The Solitary disk coral (Scolymia wellsi) is the smallest 2.5-7 cm. The Artichoke coral (Scolymia cubensis) 4-10 cm. The Atlantic mushroom coral (Scolymia lacera) 6-15 cm. Here are a few examples.
Soft corals, Gorgonians
Arriving at the top of the reef, you see a lot of Gorgonian. Waving in the water, an indication of the current and which direction to swim.