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Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus)
If you are ever swimming in a kelp forest off the coast of California and hear a loud thumping sound, be prepared for a face-to-face encounter with a beautiful, bright orange fish called the Garibaldi. Living from the pacific coast of Baja California up to Montery Bay, they are found in the warm, shallow waters off the coast, where they make their homes in coral reefs and kelp forests. Garibaldi are fiercely territorial animals. Although not much larger than 12" in length, they are quick to confront intruders; including humans; with attack displays and loud thumping noises.
During the breeding season (March through July), the male fish create meticulously tended nests of red algae. In a circular space about 18" in diameter, the male will clear away all sea urchins, invertebrates, plants and other organisms, leaving only the red algae. Female Garibaldi are very choosey about which nest they will lay their eggs in, and thus, who will fertilize their eggs. Upon seeing a female approach his nest to investigate, the male Garibaldi will rush over, making loud clicking noises, and attempt to lure her to his construction. If the nest is suitable, the female will lay between 20-80,000 eggs, and then swim away, never to return. The male stays with the nest and protects the eggs during their 2-3 week development period. Once the eggs hatch, the juveniles, who are covered with iridescent blue spots, swim away.
Due to its beauty, Garibaldi have suffered from over-collection by the saltwater aquarium industry. In 1995, the Garibaldi became the state marine fish of California, and now enjoys complete protection from fishing or collection.
artwork and text by
Emma Skurnik © 2004