Learn To Identify Caribbean Corals 


Have to ever wanted to learn to identify Caribbean corals and don’t know where to start? I’ve made it my mission to photograph and document all the Caribbean coral I could find as a way to help scuba divers, snorkelers and underwater enthusiast learn how to identify corals!

Since I first started scuba diving in 2006 I’ve been pretty much obsessed with corals. On my very first dive I saw a coral restoration project and fell in love. Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to help protect corals around the world, and one of the best way I know how to do this is by helping people understand and learn more about coral identification. 

My goal is to help people to see reef with new eyes by taking a closer look at corals and I’ve created this helpful guide to identifying Caribbean corals as a simple way for everyone to learn more about corals. If you like this guide share it with your friends and don’t forget to bookmark this page.



Coral Identification Tips for Beginners

With so much to look at underwater it hard enough to keep your eyes looking in one direction. Often when we’re first learning to scuba dive the underwater world is a mystery and our eyes haven’t had time to adjust to the new world. Our imagination easily gets carried away by turtles and fish, stingrays and sharks. And before you know it you’re out of air and the dive is over. 

At this point we can be left saying, the dive was great and the corals were beautiful, but that’s where things get interesting. Corals often become the background for our dives and we don’t have enough time to stop and appreciate each little things. It’s like the expressions, it’s nice to take time to “stop and smell the roses”. Corals are like the little flowers of the sea and it’s fun to take our time and appreciate the diversity of life on the coral reef.

Coral ID can be confusing at first especially because the pictures you see in guide books don’t always look like the corals you find on the reef. One of the easiest ways I know how to identify corals is by first starting to look at the different growth forms like branching, or plating, and then start to narrow down each species. 

Caribbean corals is a great place to start learning coral identification because there is only a few coral species you need to learn compared to a place like the Indo-Pacific with hundreds of hard coral species. 

At the top of this guide I have included some quick identification guides which separate the corals based on their growth form. Below I have listed each coral in alphabetical order and if you click on each coral you can learn more about how to identify each specie in the wild 

You can also find more of my articles about Caribbean corals in Scuba Diving MagazineScuba Diver LifePADI, and Girls that Scuba. If you have any questions or need help identifying a coral leave a comment below or find me on instagram @nicole.helgason

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Quick Guide To Caribbean Coral Identification

Guide To Caribbean Coral Identification

Staghorn Coral

Acropora cervicornis

Elkhorn Coral

Acropora palmata

Fused Staghorn Coral

Acropora prolifera

Fragile saucer coral

Agaricia fragilis

Lowrelief Lettuce Coral

Agaricia humilis

Lamarck's Sheet Coral

Agaricia lamarcki

Boulder Brain

Colpophyllia natans

Pilar coral

Dendrogyra cylindrus

Pineapple coral

Dichocoenia stokesi

Grooved Brain Coral

Diploria labyrinthiformis

Smooth Flower Coral

Eusmilia fastigata

Golf Ball Coral

Favia fragum

Sunray Lettuce Coral

Helioseris cucullata

Sinuous Cactus Coral

Isophyllia sinuosa

Rough Star Coral

Isophylliastrea rigida

Yellow Finger Coral

Madracis auretenra

Star Coral Hybrid

Madracis carmabi

Ten Ray Star Coral

Madracis decactis

Encrusting Star coral

Madracis pharensis

Rose Coral

Manicina areolata

White Maze Coral

Meandrina jacksoni

Maze Coral

Meandrina meandrites

Branching Fire Coral

Millepora alcicornis

Blade Fire Coral

Millerpora complanata

Box Fire Coral

Millepora squarrosa

Great Star Coral


Montastrea cavernosa

Spiny Flower Coral

Mussa angulosa

Knobby Cactus Coral

Mycetophyllia aliciae

Low-Ridge Cactus Coral

Mycetophyllia danaan

Rough Cactus Coral

Mycetophyllia ferox

Ridged Cactus Coral

Mycetophyllia lamarckiana

Ivory Bush Coral

Oculina diffusa

Pillar Star Coral

Orbicella annularis

Mountainous Star Coral

Orbicella faveolata

Boulder Star Coral

Orbicella franksi

Mustard Hill Coral

Porites asteroides

Honeycomb Plate Coral

Porites colonensis

Thin Finger Coral

Porites divericata 

Branched Finger Coral

Porites furcata 

Finger Coral

Porites porites

Knobby Brain Coral

Psuedodiploria clivosa

Smooth Brain Coral

Psuedodiploria strigosa

Artichoke Coral

Scolymia cubensis

Fleshy Disk Coral

Scolymia lacera

Lesser Starlet Coral

Siderastrea radians

Massive Starlet Coral

Siderastrea siderea

Smooth Star Coral

Solenastrea bournoni

Blushing Star Coral

Stephanocoenia intersepta

Thin Leaf Lettuce Coral

Undaria tenuafolia

Knobby Star Coral

Solenastrea hyades