Garibaldi
Hypsypops rubicundus

Physical Description

  • Bright orange coloration
  • Plump fish with flowing fins
  • Bump over eyes

Range

  • California Coast, from Monterey to northern Baja California, Mexico
  • Very abundant in Channel Islands

Habitat

  • Unlike most of their damselfish relatives, they live in cool temperate waters
  • From shallow subtidal waters to 100 feet depth
  • Found in shallow rocky reefs between intertidal and subtidal zones
  • Found in kelp forests

Diet

  • Bottom-dwelling invertebrates, such as worms, small anemones, sponges, bryozoans, crabs, shrimp, small shellfish, and sea stars

Predators

  • Larger fish, seals, sea lions, sharks
  • On Santa Catalina Island, they are eaten by bald eagles! 

Interesting Facts

  • The garibaldi is the California state marine fish. As such, its possession is illegal.
  • The name garibaldi comes from the 1800s Italian leader Giuseppe Garibaldi whose troops wore flashy red/orange colors into battle.
  • The male garibaldi will select the nesting location for the female, and meticulously prepare it for the laying of eggs. He will remove any detritus or sea stars and bite back plants that are in the way.
  • Garibaldi are very territorial, and are known to chase divers away from their nesting areas. But two male garibaldis can graze peacefully within two feet of each other if they don’t cross territory lines. 

Sources: National Park Service; Aquarium of the Pacific

Photo: Derek Tarr

See if you can spot the bright orange fish on Birch Aquarium’s Kelp Cam!

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