Coral Taxonomy & Identification

Being able to accurately identify corals by their family and species is vital for any research, monitoring, and restoration courses. It is also a great way to learn more about their evolutionary and life history, and gain a new appreciation and love for their diversity. In this course, you will learn how to identify corals underwater based on their anatomical features, and on land based on their skeletal features. You will also learn tips and tricks to remembering the names and how to ID them underwater. Depending on where you take the course, you will learn the most common species in your area, but have the tools to learn the species wherever you dive next.


  • Be 12 years of age or older
  • Be certified as an Advanced diver under a leading diving organization (PADI, SSI, RAID, etc) or an Open Water diver who has satisfactorily completed a buoyancy appraisal with a professional diver
  • Demonstrate proper diving ability at an advanced Level and be proficient in buoyancy and self-awareness
  • Be certified in our Ecological Monitoring Program


  • Be familiar with coral anatomy and skeletal morphology, in particular, the diagnostic features used in identification
  • Understand the taxonomic system and organization for classifying hard corals
  • Learn the names of coral families and genera, and tricks to remember the Latin names


  • Attend 1 Coral Taxonomy and Identification lecture
  • Practice identifying corals on land with the EMP book or CoralFinder Guide (By BYO Guides), using specimens
  • Perform 1 coral taxonomy identification dive learning how to coral anatomy and skeletal morphology
  • Perform 1 survey dive specifically taking data on coral genera – can either be the EMP substrate dive, coral disease survey, or a quadrat survey
  • Be able to accurately identify at least 10 of the most common coral genera to the region
  • Complete the final quiz

Expected course time about 8 hours

Certification Card

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