SPECIES IN THE SEA OF CORTES

 

Some representatives of the fish beauty found in the Sea of Cortés are:

  • Holacanthus Passer

    Picture by: Lavan, J.
    Scientific Name: Holacanthus passer
    Common name: King angelfish
    Biology: Common in rocky reefs at depths of 4 to 30 m. Day feeder, feeds with sessile invertebrates, plankton and algae, but prefers sponges. Juveniles have been seen cleaning ectoparasites from other fishes. Female and male are territorials.
    Maximum lenght: 36 cm.

  • Thalassoma Lucasanum

    Picture by: Randall, J.E.
    Scientific Name: Thalassoma lucasanum
    Common name: Cortez rainbow wrasse
    Distribution: From the Sea of Cortés to Panama, including Revillagigedo Archipelago and the Galapagos Islands.
    Biology: Swims in small groups over rocky reefs and coasts. Feeds with plankton, small invertebrates and algae that are incrusted in rocks, additionally they behave as “cleaning fish” of ectoparasites from other fishes. A male dominates several females for reproduction. Found from surface to 64 m deep.
    Maximum lenght: 15 cm

  • Thalassoma grammaticum

    Picture by: Randall, J.E.
    Scientific Name: Thalassoma grammaticum
    Common name: Sunset wrasse.
    Distribution: Lives in Rocky and coral reefs, from Baja California to Panama, including Revillagigedo Archipelago and the Galapagos Islands.
    Biology: Green-Blue color with a red spot staring at the eyes. It is a lonely specie that may found in coral reefs. Travels very long distances to feed on invertebrates. 
    Maximum lenght: 32 cm.

  • Sufflamen verres

    Picture by: Roger Steene
    Scientific Name: Sufflamen verres
    Common name: Orange-side triggerfish
    Distribution: Eastern Pacific, from the coasts of Baja California (Cedros Island) to Ecuador, including Revillagigedo Archipelago and the Galapagos Islands.
    Biology: Found in rocky areas. Normally at depths form 3 to 35 meters. It is a lonely specie. Feeds on Sea Urchins, small crustaceans and mollusks, frequently “blows” into sand to find its prey. It has been found in rocky reefs caves, probably feeding on sea urchins.
    Maximum lenght: 40 cm.

  • Stegastes rectifraenum

    Picture by: Allen, G.R. 
    Scientific Name: Stegastes rectifraenum
    Common name: Cortes damselfish.   
    Distribution: From the Coasts of Baja California to Chiapas.
    Biology: Dark Brown with bluish frames on their heads. Lives on rocky areas, from the wave surf zone to and up to 10 m deep. It is an omnivore fish.
    Maximum lenght: 12 cm.

  • Stegastes flavilatus

    Picture by: Allen, G.R.
    Scientific Name: Stegastes flavilatus
    Common name: Beaubrummel.
    Distribution: From the Coasts of Baja California to Ecuador.
    Biology: Brown with yellow fins. Juveniles are blue in their dorsal part and yellow in their ventral, with an ocellus in their dorsal fin back part. Lives in rocky areas from surf to 10 m. depths. It is an omnivore fish.
    Maximum lenght: 14 cm.

  • Scorpaena mystes

    Picture by: Lavan, J.
    Scientific Name: Scorpaena mystes
    Common name: Stone scorpionfish
    Distribution: From the Sea of Cortés to Panama.
    Biology: Found in rocky areas. Feeds normally on fishes and crustacean. Found in depths between 5 a 55 meters. Its body is covered with brilliant white dots that mimics it with the bottom of the ocean.
    Maximum lenght: 45 cm.

  • Prionurus punctatus

    Picture by: Randall, J.E.
    Scientific Name: Prionurus punctatus
    Common name: Surgeon fish.
    Distribution: From the Sea of Cortés to San Salvador, including the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
    Biology: It is a species of day habits found over rocky shallow reefs and coast. Normally groups in small schools until full size, when they become solitary. It is herbivore and feeds on algae in rocky areas at depths from one to 35 meters.
    Maximum lenght: 60 cm.

  • Pomacanthus zonipectus

    Picture by: Roger Steene
    Scientific Name: Pomacanthus zonipectus
    Common name: Cortés Angelfish.
    Distribution: From the Gulf of California to Peru, including the Galapagos Archipelago.
    Biology: Its color changes from initial to terminal phase. In its initial phase it is dark blue with four yellow frames alternating with black and with a white caudal fin. Juveniles group in small schools, adults are solitary fishes. They are cleaners of ectoparasites of other species. Normally feeds diurnal, mainly eating sponges and algae.
    Maximum lenght: 45 cm.

  • Muraena lentiginosa

    Picture by: Lavan, J.
    Scientific Name: Muraena lentiginosa
    Common name: Moray Eel.
    Distribution: From the Gulf of California to Peru, including the Galapagos Archipelago.
    Biology: It is pale yellow with unique black and yellow ocellus and a black stain behind the eyes. Lives in shallow waters in rocky reefs with caves, holes and dark burrows during the day. They constantly open and close the mouth to breath. Feeds on crustaceans and fishes. Are solitary fishes.
    Maximum lenght: 61 cm.

  • Mulloidichthys dentatus

    Picture by: Allen, G.R.
    Scientific Name: Mulloidichthys dentatus
    Common name: Mexican Goatfish
    Distribution: Eastern Pacific, from the coasts of Baja California (Cedros Island) to Ecuador, including Revillagigedo Archipelago and the Galapagos Islands.
    Biology: Yellow body with yellow and bluish stripes on its sides. Lives on rocky, sandy and muddy coasts, from shallow to 46 meters. Moves in pelagic schools (mainly juveniles) but is also solitary (with more benthonic behavior). Feeds by digging sand with its barbs. Rests during night on the marine bottom.
    Maximum lenght: 31 cm.

  • Microspathodon dorsalis

    Picture by: Fenner, R.
    Scientific Name: Microspathodon dorsalis
    Common name: Giant Damselfish.
    Distribution: From Central Gulf of California to Colombia.
    Biology: Common inhabitants of rocky coasts, mainly at areas with high waves and at depths between 1 and 5 meters. Highly territorial and aggressive, defending their feeding and reproductive grounds and attacking any fish that comes close. Feeds on algae that adhere to rocks and plankton.
    Maximum lenght: 31 cm.

  • Johnrandallia nigrirostris

    Picture by: Allen, G.R. 
    Scientific Name: Johnrandallia nigrirostris
    Common name: Black nosed butterfly fish or barber fish.
    Distribution: From Baja California to Panama, including the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
    Biology: Commonly found in rocky coasts, feeds on algae, mollusks and crustaceans; also “cleans” ectoparasites from other fishes. Normally can found in small to large schools in depths of 2 to 40 meters, always near the bottom of the sea. Are very active during daytime and at night they hide in crevices near the surface of rocks and reefs.
    Maximum length: 20 cm.

  • Gymnothorax castaneus.

    Picture by: Munson, L. 
    Scientific Name: Gymnothorax castaneus.
    Common name: Panamic green moray eel.
    Distribution: From California to Panama, including the Galapagos Archipelago.
    Biology: Ash Green color all body. Lives in rocks, old constructions, caves, holes and dark crevices during the day. Constantly opening and closing their mouth to breath, sometimes they may hide buried under the sand. Eats some crustaceans and fishes. Very solitary and sensible.
    Maximum length: 150 cm.

  • Cirrhitus rivulatus.

    Picture by: Wepner, T. 
    Scientific Name: Cirrhitus rivulatus.
    Common name: Giant Hawksfish.
    Distribution: Gulf of California and Revillagigedo and Galapagos Archipelagos.
    Biology: From Green to Brown color with distinctive dark brown frames on their sides. Juveniles lives in surge zones, adults live in rocky reefs at depths of up to 20 meters. Solitary, lives in shallow and deep waters in rocky reefs, where they camouflage into the rocks, feeds on crustaceans and small fishes.
    Maximum length: 60 cm.


Nudibranchs

Another very colorful group of animals that live in the area, are Nudibranchs, small mollusks, toxic to their potential predator but harmless to humans.

The majority of them are not larger than 2 inches and their size invite all to dive with a lamp, a ruler and a magnifying glass.

Hans Bertsch, PhD., researcher on the subject for more than 30 years in the Sea of Cortés, has confirmed the existence of more than 117 different species of Nudibranchs within Bahía de los Ángeles, naming some of them with names such as Mexichromis, colorful Mexican, and Trivettea papalotla, Ivette's sea butterfly.

For reference see “Invertebrados del Noroeste de México/Marine Invertebrates of Northwestern Mexico” by Dr. Hans Bertsch (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Oceanographer Luis E. Aguilar Rosas This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Name: Spanish Shawl.
    Scientific Name: Flabellina iodinea.
    Size: 2-4 in.
    Habitat: From rocky intertidal and subtidal substrates to 400 ft depths.
    Distribution: Vancouver Island, Canada to Baja California and throughout the Southern Gulf of California.

  • Name: Marisla´s Dorid.
    Scientific Name: Felimida marislae (Bertsch, 1973).
    Size: 2.5-3 in.
    Habitat: Under Rocks and crevices; subtidal at depths of 12-100 ft.
    Distribution: Central Gulf of California, south to Michoacán.

  • Name: Antonio´s Chromodorid.
    Scientific Name: Mexichromis antonii (Bertsch, 1976).
    Size: 0.5-.5 in.
    Habitat: Under and upon rocks; subtidal to 80 ft.
    Distribution: Central Gulf of California to Costa Rica

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Archipelagos

Angel de la Guarda and Bahía de los Ángeles Archipelagos, as well as the coast along the channels of Ballenas and Salsipuedes, are marine bird colonies, prior to reproduction season, for terns, sea gulls, cormorants, herons and dodo birds. Additionally, it is an important refuge for a large variety of coast, marine and birds of prey, during their reproduction season or in their migration routes.

For some large mammals Canal de Ballenas (Whales Channel) geomorphological and oceanographic characteristics, produced by summer upwelling, strong winds and tides, that bring water from the deep to the channel, make it an important area for cetaceans; there have been 16 large mammals recorded in a year. Some of the species that can be found are: fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), tropical rorquals (Balaenoptera edeni), Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), gray Whales (Eschrichtius rubustus) and Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus).


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Three of the 13 recognized sea lions rookeries (Zalophus californianus californianus) are within the Bahía de los Ángeles Biosphere reserve, in the coasts of Angel de la Guarda and Granito islands. Additionally resting rookeries are known to be at Roca Vela, Roca Blanca, Between Estanque Island and Isla Ángel de la Guarda, at El Rasito Islet in Bahía de las Ánimas and Isla Calavera, most of individuals are either adults or juveniles.

 

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Phone. (664) 682-3367 | Fax. (664) 682-3331 | P.O. Box 2448 Chula Vista, Ca. 91912

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