Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Countingfishbonaire

Counting fish and other marine life on Bonaire!

Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire

There is an ongoing underwater monitoring project in the Dutch Caribbean which you can join. The only thing you need to do is count some fish! How cool!



In the Dutch Caribbean (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius) there is a coastal monitoring project called MOO (Monitoring Onderwar Oevers in Dutch). For this project you can count marine life species when you dive on Bonaire. Since I am crazy about marine life identification and always helping other divers with 'what fish' they saw I think this is an awesome project to share. You can help and learn to ID new species here!

Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Anemoon
The ANEMOON Foundation in The Netherlands collects all the data. Their marine ecological research is based on citizen-science by volunteers. This means you can be part of this! The purpose of monitoring the coastlines of The "European" Netherlands as well as the Dutch Caribbean with MOO is to recognize changes in the population in order to act if needed.

Since many SCUBA divers visit Bonaire and often diver can recognize marine life species underwater there is a great opportunity to help conserve the Bonaire National Marine Park (part of STINAPA). Great barracudas, eagle rays and tarpons are species you might be able to recognize easily when diving around Bonaire. Why not send this information to ANEMOON for research?!

Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Spongebrittlestarbonaire
Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Bandedcoralshrimpbonaire
Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Squadshrimpbonaire
Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Starhorseshoewormbonaire
Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Stoplightparrotfishbonaire

Some of the beautiful marine life species of Bonaire

Country The Netherlands (Dutch Caribbean)
Dive area name Bonaire island
Dive center Wannadive
Famous for Healthy coral reef & shore diving!
Price Single tank rental about $20,- (Nitrox or Air) and about $20,- for equipment rental per day.
+$25,- for a single-dive boat trip to Klein Bonaire. Discounts apply on packages.
Hotel recommendation Eden Beach Resort




How to monitor marine life on Bonaire

The ANEMOON Foundation has set up a fill-out form of 150 marine life species that can be found specifically around Bonaire and need to be monitored.
Download the printable PDF or the Excel file to fill-out the form online and send it by email. As mentioned in the form itself you have 6 options for each species:
Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire MOO Form Bonaire

Part of the MOO-form filled out after my dive

  • ? = You do NOT know the species or you did not count them;
  • 0 = You know the species but did not see any;
  • R (Rare )= You saw 1 to 9 specimens;
  • C (Common) = You saw 10 to 99 specimens;
  • A (Abundant)= You saw more than 100 specimens;
  • EGG= You saw eggs of this species.

Underwater Slate with Retractor

Tecnomar slate for wet notes. Including measuring staff.

What you need to do is decide which marine life species you can easily recognize and want to count. Make sure to start with counting only a few species (NOT THE WHOLE LIST). This makes things a lot easier for yourself and you can monitor more efficiently. Choose to count only sponges and parrotfish for example. You can swim freely throughout a dive site and record every observed species that you can identify and/or have decided to monitor, the Roving Diver Technique (RDT). The search for species begins as soon as you enter the water. The goal is to find as many species as possible so make sure to look under ledges and up in the water column as well.

Personally I like to write the species down on my underwater slate and than count the number of times I saw them to make sure I do not forget. Actually I always carry a underwater writing slate with me around the world and I use it often for describing species I can look-up later. For this special dive I wrote down the specific species I was going to count and I left some space for other easy recognizable species (Eagle ray for example).

Counting fish in the name of science on Bonaire Funguscoral

Fungus coral



How to ID marine life of Bonaire

To be honest I did not even knew half of the species when I opened the file for the first time. This was a great opportunity for me to practice my marine-life ID skills and learn to recognize some new animals and plants! Some fish I had even seen a lot but I never knew their name. On the list I marked the species I could recognize and I searched the rest through identification books (some mentioned below) and various websites. Be careful when you Google for identification, often names are incorrect.

Quite a lot of the species of Bonaire are found around Sint Eustatius (Statia) as well. You can download the field guide of ANEMOON of Sint Eustatius here. If you have an underwater camera you can also take photos and analyze them afterwards with the marine life identification books. If that does not work you can send them to ANEMOON for identification or post the photo in this Dutch Facebook group: ANEMOON MOO/LIMP/SMP. Please provide the name of the dive site, date, depth and size of the species.

Recommended marine life identification books for Bonaire


Reef CREATURE Identification
Paul Human

Florida Caribbean Bahamas
3rd Edition


Reef FISH Identification
Paul Human

Florida Caribbean Bahamas
4th Edition



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Read it here on my travel blog Crazy Dutch Abroad.
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Marlies
Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
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Marine life species of Bonaire



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