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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks; characterized by the presence of a nictitating membrane over the eye, two dorsal fins, an anal fin, and five gill slits.)
Family: Scyliorhinidae (Cat sharks; elongated cat-like eyes and a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots)

Genus/species: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Swell sharks have a stout body with flat, broad head; short snout; huge mouth,  proportionally larger that the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Teeth are at front of jaws with dagger-like central point and 1-2 small points on each side; two dorsal fins: first much larger, with origin over pelvic fins, second dorsal fin considerably smaller than first, its origin over origin of anal fin. The body is light brown with dark patches covered with black dots.

Length up to 3.2 ft.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central California to southern Mexico; also reported near central Chile.
Found in rocky reefs and kelp forests, from surface to 460 m (1500 ft), in temperate and subtropical waters.

Swell Shark 3426936973_ee6379d9fb_b

DIET IN THE WILD: C. ventriosum is nocturnal; feeding on crustaceans and fishes, (often blacksmiths). They are lie-in-wait predators that sit on the bottom with wide-open mouth, ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. (slowly opens jaws; lies in wait for prey to swim inside).

egg case above

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous; female lays amber-colored egg cases that hatch in 8–10 months. Egg case (“mermaid’s purse”) is 9 – 13 centimeters (3.5 – 5 inches) long, 3 – 6 centimeters (1 – 2.3 inches) wide. Young have enlarged toothlike denticles on the back that help them break through egg cases. Pups measure 14 – 15 centimeters (5.5-6 in) at birth; immediately feed on their own.

Embryos may be eaten by snails that bore through egg cases.

Pup  below on top of egg case

PREDATORS:  If caught it is, usually it will be released because its flesh is of poor quality.    Life span: 25 or more years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: least concern species

REMARKS: C. ventriosum hides in caves and crevices during normal aquarium hours. the day, and so is often not to be seen during aquarium hours. Common and specific (ventriosum = “largebelly”) names come from its ability to take in water that makes it appear up to twice as large as its normal size, a difficult meal for predators to bite or to remove from a crevice. If caught and brought to the surface, it can swell its body with air.

When caught by fishermen and brought out of water, the release of gulped water/air can cause the swell shark to “bark”.

Occurs in aggregations while resting, sometimes piled one on top of the other.

Southern California Coast Kelp Exhibit Tidepool young with egg cases.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Southern California Coast Kelp Exhibit 2018

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Ron’s flickr 7608440813109/




Sean Donahoe, CAS docent, materials from the Naturalist Center and collaborated with Docent Program staff document.

Works Cited

1. Carwardine, M. 2004. Shark. Firefly Books. Buffalo. 168 p.

2. Michael, S.W. 1993. Reef Sharks and Rays of the World: A guide to their

identification, behavior, and ecology. Sea Challengers. Monterey. 107 p.

3. Parker, S. and Parker, J. 1999. The Encyclopedia of Sharks. Firefly Books.

Buffalo. 192 p.

4. Ebert, D.A. 2003. Sharks, Rays, and Chimeras of California. University of

California Press. Berkeley/Los Angeles. 284 p.

5. Springer, V.G. and Gold, J.P. 1989. Sharks in Question. Smithsonian Institution

Press. Washington, D.C. 187 p.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae

Genus/species: Heosemys spinose

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The sharp, pointed, spiky-edged carapace, and spiny keel are unique to this turtle. See photo at  Arkive
It is thought that this spiny ‘armour’ acts as a deterrent to predators, such as snakes. However, the, strongly-serrated carapace edge and spiny keel become worn down and are lost with age, so that larger individuals are much smoother than juveniles and less likely to be needed.
The carapace is brown with a pale streak down the central keel, and the head and limbs are greyish-brown, usually with a yellow to red spot behind the eye and similar-coloured speckling on the legs.

Length carapace; up to 220 mm (8.6 in)
Weight up to 2 kg (6.6 lbs)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Southeast Asia, from Thailand and possibly southern Myanmar southward through Malaysia to Sumatra, Borneo and Natuna, numerous small Indonesian Islands and the Philippines.
This semi-aquatic species is found in shallow, wooded mountain streams, but spends considerably time on land foraging or burrowing amongst the leaf litter of the forest floor.

DIET IN THE WILD: Apparently herbivorous in the wild, preferring fruits and vegetables, but will accept some animal foods in captivity.

The spiny turtle is in grave danger of extinction due to over-collection from the wild for the Asian food market and international pet trade, as well as being threatened by the destruction of its habitat.
This species is difficult to breed in captivity but some institutions have been successful bred. (Atlanta and Knoxville Zoos in the US., and Durell Wildlife in Jersey, Europe


California Academy of Sciences Rainforest (L2) 2018

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IUCN Red List August 2017.

Ecology Asia.


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Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Salamandridae

Genus/species: Neurergus kaiseri

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: N. kaiseri has a distinctive, spectacular coloration, with a long narrow yellow or orange-red dorsal stripe overlaying bleached white (spots or a continuous band) on a black background. The bottom is whitish or orange-red, and may have black markings.

Length up to 14 cm (5.5 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Native to the central Zagros Mountains of Iran in the Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces. N. kaiseri comes from a hot dry climate. They reproduce in winter during periods of rain, which are followed by long periods of hot dry weather in which the animals estivate. It is estimated that water is present in their habitat for 3 months of the year or less.

DIET in captivity: They are fed small earthworms (whole or chopped), lesser wax worms, large fruit flies, maggots, tropical woodlice, and crickets of appropriate size.
They are not picky eaters.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are deposited singly on rough surfaces on the underside of stones and also use vegetation.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Vulnerable. The population is considered to be severely fragmented as per IUCN guidelines given the habitat where it occurs and the relatively low vagility of the species. The species is illegally harvested for the national and international pet trade Its biggest threat. It is believed that less than 1000 adults exist in nature. N. kaiseri has become the first example of a species granted international protection due to e-commerce.

REMARKS: A captive breeding program is in place at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, which now has hundreds of surplus captive-bred N. kaiseri.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water is life precious little water 2018

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Amphibia web.…


Caudata Culture.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae

Genus: Symphysodon aequifasciatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color varies as they age. They present a dark brownish to green body. They have nine vertical bars along the body, but lack a bold centrally located bar. They have irregular metallic streaks along the belly, dorsal fin, anal fins, and on the dorsal area of the body of green, blue, or turquoise.

Length up to 5 inches (13.7 cm)

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: Blue Discus are found in freshwater in the South America eastern Amazon River basin in Brazil In deep, rocky areas in crevices and among roots. Normally in schools.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on insect larvae, insects, and planktonic invertebrates.

REPRODUCTION: S. aequifasciatus eggs are deposited on stones or plants; both parents defend eggs and larvae; larvae feed on a skin mucus during their first few days.



California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Flooded Amazon 2018 (Vetted C Delbeek)

Ron’s Flickr


Animal Diversity Web.…

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gasterosteiformes
Family: Aulorhynchidae (Tube-snouts)

Genus/species: Aulorhynchus flavidus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The body has a small caudal fin and small soft dorsal fin. Color is a pale mottled brown, varying from olive-green to yellow-brown dorsally, creamy white ventrally and a bright silvery patch between operculum and pectorals extending to throat.

Length up to length: 18.0 cm (7 inches)


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: occurs on the west coast of North America from Prince William Sound, Alaska, to Rompiente, Baja California. Found in kelp beds, eelgrass, rocky areas, and over sand bottoms.


DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds on small crustaceans and fish larvae.

REPRODUCTION: A nest is constructed in kelp and guarded by the male.

LONGEVITY: Up to 9 years



California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, California Coast Gallery 2018

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink


Pacific coast Fishes Eschmeyer et al Houghton Mifflin 1986 page 128



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Cetoniinae

Genus/species: Pachnoda marginata

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have a yellow with brownish-black front wings that can be seen on its back. Their body is shiny black. Size of around (2,5 cm) 1 inch

DISTRIBUTION: Central and Western Africa

DIET IN THE WILD: These adult beetles eat flowers and fruit. Their larvae have enzyme-releasing microbes in their digestive system which breakdown tough fibrous food. The larvae and their internal microorganisms recycle nutrients back to the forest floor.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs and grubs live underground. The grubs eat rotten fruit and decomposing leaves.
From egg to beetle takes about 3 to 5 months depending on temperature and beetles will live for 2 to 5 months.

REMARKS: the most common pet beetle


California Academy of Sciences Rainforest 2018

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1-13-18 Northern Feather Duster Worms from Ron’s California Coast Gallery

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Sabellida
Family: Sabellidae

Genus/species: Eudistylia vancouveri

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: E. vancouveri secretes a soft, leathery, parchment like tube. The peristomium has several featherlike banded green and purple or maroon light sensitive radioles (tentacles) that are closely associated with the mouth, forming a feather-duster like structure. The radioles are also used for gas exchange (like gills) but the circulatory pattern within them is unusual. Instead of having afferent and efferent vessels, the radioles have a single branchial vessel in each radiole which the blood flows in and out of. Sabellids possess giant nerve fibers running down their body which allows them to retract rapidly into their tube if disturbed.

The pencil like vertical tubes are up to about 45 cm (18 in) long and the tentacle plumes up to 2 inches in diameter.

An excellent group of diagrams of fan worm anatomy can be found on page 27 of the Marine Biology Coloring Book by T. Niesen (2000).


Northern Feather Duster Worm30312750995_19fd3dac96_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found from Alaska to central California in low intertidal areas to 20 m (60 ft) deep. Often in large clusters attached to crevices of boulders, bedrock, pilings; and on vertical rock faces and surge channels in heavy surf.

DIET IN THE WILD: Plankton-feeders such as this often live where there are strong currents and wave action, moving food past the animal at a high rate.

REPRODUCTION: The sexes are separate in these worms, but gametes are produced on internal surfaces rather than in gonads. During spawning, the sperm and eggs are carried up the same groove that carries the fecal pellets and shed into the water. Fertilization is thus a random process, and the larvae that develop are planktonic spheroids with flagella and cilia, at first looking nothing like worms. They add segments little by little and finally drop out of the plankton as real worms, to begin their feather-duster life.

REMARKS: E. vancouveri are marine segmented worms that are sessile, attached to rocks or sand by their base.

Northern Feather Duster Worms are light sensitive and will retract when a shadow passes over them to protect their delicate radiaols.


California Academy of Sciences J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc.
Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium


University of Puget Sound……

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria Scyphozoa
Class: Scyphozoa
Subclass: Discomedusae
Order: Semaeostomeae
Family: Pelagiidae

Genus/species: Chrysaora plocamia

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Sometimes huge, diameter reported to max.of 1 m (3ft), oral arms up to. 5 m (15+ft)  or more, but in many populations reported smaller, more typically to ca. 50 cm (20 inches) diameter. Exumbrella smooth. Tentacles in adult 24, 3 per octant; and oral arms are frilled distally.
Color varies. Ground color may also be orange, or white; bell may have dark purple edge; tentacles may be dark purple; mouth-arms may be white/translucent-colorless. Marginal tentacles white to red with yellowish bases (type description).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They occur along both Atlantic and Pacific South American coasts.

REPRODUCTION: Jellies reproduce sexually and asexually.
In the adult, or medusa, jellyfish can reproduce sexually by releasing sperm and eggs into the water, forming a planula. In this larval stage of jellyfish life, which attaches to the bottom of a smooth rock or other structure and grows into another stage. The polyp resembles a miniature sea anemone. During this stage, which can last for several months or years, asexual reproduction occurs. The polyps clone themselves and budhat grows into the adult medusa jellyfish.

REMARKS: Stings are irritating but not severe, lasting 30-60 minutes.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Animal Attractions 2018

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Smithsonian Ocean Portal…

Scientific American…

Springer Link

Worms Taxon

Marine Species Identification Portal…

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anguilliformes (Eels and morays)
Family: Muraenidae (Moray eels)

Gymnothorax mordax 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color is dark brown to green, mottled. The is somewhat compressed and has no pectoral fins
(all eels lack pelvic fins)..

Length up to 1.5 m (5 ft)

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT: Found from Point Conception to south Baja California in rocky subtidal areas diurnally resting in crevices or holes with their head usually protruding. Depth 6–40 m, typically 0.6–20 m.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds nocturnally upon crustaceans, octopuses and fishes. Prey is detected by smell.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They can live up to 30 years.


REMARKS: Morays constantly open and close their mouth. They do this to aid respiration. It is not a threat display. California Moray bites can cause serious lacerations, and may be unprovoked.

Much of its time they hiding in holes and crevices amongst the rocks on the ocean floor. They are able to remain out of sight from predators and are also able to ambush any unsuspecting prey that passes.

California Morays may be eaten but some species of Moray are poisonous.


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium 2017

Pacific Coast Fishes Eschmeyer, Herald and Hammann page 64

More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes of the Pacific Coast, Milton Love 1996 pages 83-84

Animal Diversity Web


Ron’s WordPress Shortlink

Ron’s flickr


Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Pomacentridae (Damselfishes) They resemble the related cichlids and, like them, have a single nostril on each side of the head (most fishes have 2 nostrils on each side) and have interrupted lateral lines. They have a round to oval compressed body. Damselfishes have two anal spines (usually 3 in perch like species). Many species are brilliantly colored, often in shades of red, orange, yellow, or blue; most do not exceed a length of about 15 cm (6 inches).

Genus/species: Hypsypops rubicundus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults are perched-shaped and brilliant orange with green eyes. Young Garibaldi are even more colorful with bright blue spots on a reddish-orange body. Normally propels itself withers pectoral fins.

Length approximately 38 cm (15 in) in length (weight 2 pounds in nature)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Monterey Bay, California to southern Baja California, Mexico among rocky bottom reefs and kelp beds,intertidal to more than 30 m (100 ft). Often near crevices and caves.

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal consumers of sponges, bryozoans, anemones and worms.

MORTALITY: Lives to at least 25 years.

PREDATION: Bald Eagles at Santa Catalina Island eat them.


REPRODUCTION: Oviparous, pairs during breeding with eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate. Males guard and aerate the eggs.


REMARKS: H. rubicundus is the official marine fish of the State of California. Common name is a reference to the redshirts worn by the armies of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a fighter for Italian unification.

In California it is illegal to catch tis species. they must be released alive.

Disturbed specimens will emit thumping sounds audible to divers.

The California State freshwater fish is the golden trout (Salmo agua-bonita, native only to California). It was found only in a few streams in the icy headwaters of the Kern River, south of Mount Whitney, before transplanting to other CA. locations.


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Giants and Southern California exhibits 2017

Ron’s flickr

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink:

Pacific Coast Fishes Eschmeyer, Herald and Hammann page 233-4

More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes of the Pacific Coast, Milton Love 1996 pages 279-281


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