Tag Archive: galapagos

Cirrhitichthys falco (Cirrhitidae) Hawkfishes 

DISTRIBUTION: Western Pacific, from the Philippines to Japan, Samoa, the Barrier Reef, and New Caledonia; as far east as Hawaii and the Galapagos.

HABITAT: Shallow coastal to outer reef flats. Typically 
rest at the bases of coral heads, perched high enough to see prey and predators.

APPEARANCE: Small, up to 2.5 inches (6 cm). The body is white with red-brown spots that run diagonally along the body. They have small tufts of bright yellow on the tips of their dorsal fin ray.

DIET: Feed meaty foods including marine fish, crustacean flesh, Mysid Shrimp and frozen preparations daily.


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Gymnomuraena zebra (Muraenidae) Morays

DISTRIBUTION: Indo-Pacific including the Galápagos Islands. Habitat: Sandy and rocky-bottomed substrates. In reef crevices and beneath ledges of exposed seaward reef flats and seaward slopes from 2–40 m.

DIET: Primarily crabs. Also preys on other crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins. This species’ close-set, pebble-like teeth are used to crush its hard-shelled prey.

APPEARANCE: Length to 1.5 m. Easily recognized by its zebra striping; usually dark brown to black with numerous narrow white bars encircling head, body and fins.  Snout very blunt.

DIET: Primarily crabs.  Also preys on other crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins. This species’ close-set, pebble-like teeth are used to crush its hard-shelled prey.     


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Thalassoma lucasanum (Labridae)  Wrasses  

DISTRIBUTION: Tropical marine waters from the central Gulf of California to the Galapagos Islands.

HABITAT: Shallow reefs at depths of about 48 m as well as near-bottom substrate.

APPEARANCE: Distinctive yellow and red lateral stripes with the less common larger males displaying a blue head with a broad yellow vertical stripe behind the head. It has a cigar-shaped with a pointed snout, thick lips, a protractile mouth and protruding canine teeth. Max. length: 15 cm. Diet: carnivore.

Galapagos Exhibit

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Chaetodon kleinii (Chaetodontidae) Butterflyfishes

Distribution: Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa (south to Coffee Bay, South Africa, to the Hawaiian Islands and Samoa, north to southern Japan, south to New South Wales, Australia and New Caledonia. Eastern Pacific: Galapagos Islands

Habitat: Deeper lagoons, channels and seaward reefs.  Solitary or  occasionally in groups.

APPEARANCE: Compressed body. White band on caudal peduncle. Adult posterior body brown to yellow. Head white, eye transversed with a black vertical stripe. Colors highly variable among populations.

DIET: Primarily corals (esp. Sarcophyton spp.), also algae and zooplankton.

Reproduction and Development: Form pairs during breeding Oviparous and nonguarders.

Location: Galápagos Exhibit    Wordpress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-7L

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Zanclidae (Moorish idol)

Genus/species: Zanclus cornutus

DISTRIBUTION:  Indo-pan-Pacific. Southern Gulf of California south to Peru including the Galápagos Islands.

HABITAT: Hard substrates from turbid inner harbors and reef flats to clear seaward reefs as deep as 182 m. Usually in small groups of conspecifics, occasionally in schools of more than 100.

APPEARANCE: Length to 23 cm. Discoid body, tubular snout, dorsal spines elongated into a very long white whip-like filament. Z. cornutus has a broad vertical white, black, white-yellow black, yellow banding. Tail black with white margin

DIET: Primarily sponges. Also consumes tunicates and algae.

REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:  It has a long larval phase and settles at a large size (6 cm), resulting in its very wide geographic distribution.

REMARKS: Z. cornutus was the icon of the Golden Gate Park Steinhart Aquarium. Gill, the leader of the tank fish in Finding Nemo, with the voice of Willem Dafoe, is a Moorish Idol.

Photos taken at the California Academy of sciences.

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Bodianus diplotaenia  Labridae (Wrasses)  

DISTRIBUTION:  Range includes Isla Guadalupe and the Gulf of California to Chile including the Galápagos Islands. 

HABITAT: Common around shallow reefs but have been recorded to depths of at least 76 m. (250 ft.). 

APPEARANCE: Females are usually reddish in color and tinged with yellow with two dark stripes.  Dominant males are identified by the fleshy lumps on their heads, their coloration is grayish tinged with red and with a yellow bar near the mid section. The tips of all fins except the pectoral are long and filamentous. Adults from deep water (76m/250 feet) are bright red with the yellow mid-body bar. At .8 m (2.5 feet) and 9 kg (20 lb.)  the Mexican hogfish is the largest shallow water wrasse in the Gulf of California.   

REPRODUCTION: Starts life as a female, later becoming a functional male.  Sex change may be due to local social conditions, but it may also have a genetic component.

REMARKS: Like other wrasses, B. diplotaenia is diurnal and inactive during the night.  At night it sleeps in cracks and crevices of rocks and caves. 

Location: Galápagos Islands  8/22/11

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Scarus ghobban, family Scaridae (Parrotfish)

DISTRIBUTION: Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and Algoa Bay, South Africa to Rapa and Ducie islands, north to southern Japan, south to Perth, New South Wales. Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California to Ecuador and Galápagos Islands.

HABITAT: Adults inhabit lagoon and seaward reefs in slopes and drop-offs, often solitary but may sometimes occur in small groups.

APPEARANCE; The teeth of Parrotfish are fused together to form beak-like plates in both jaws, hence the name Parrotfish. They have a single uninterrupted dorsal fin and large cycloid scales. S. ghobban Is dimorphic.  The females are bright orange with five blue vertical stripes from head to tail. The males are teal with tinges of orange/pink and purple lines radiating behind the head. S. ghobban’s  common length is 30.0 cm.

Female (below)

DIET: Scrapes and eats algae from rocks.  Not displayed at the California Academy of sciences because it is known to feed on Pavona and Porites corrals..

REMARKS: Maximum reported age: 13 years.

Female Scarus ghobban  top,  female Mexican Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia) bottom.

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Prionurus laticlavius   Family Acanthuridae

DISTRIBUTION:  Eastern Central Pacific: Gulf of California to El Salvador, including the Revillagigedo and Galápagos Islands.

HABITAT: Reef-associated; marine; depth range 5 – 35 m in shallow warm tropical waters with young often in tidepools.

APPEARANCE: Maxium length to 60 cm.  Grey in color  with a yellow tail and two vertical black bands on the head divided by a whitish band.  They have three scalpel like plates on each side of the tail.  Very similar to Prionurus punctatus  but lacks total body spots.

DIET: Plankton

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Tropidurus spp.   Family Tropiduridae

DISTRIBUTION: The seven different species are T. grayi, T. bivattatus, T. pacificus, T. habellii, T. delanonis, T. albemarlensis, and T. duncanensis  but only one species is found per Island.

HABITAT:  Lizards begin each day basking on the warm rocks for about an hour depending on the sun’s heat.

 APPEARANCE:  The male is larger than the female growing to about 10 inches (25cm).  Females have a bright orange throat extending up to cover some of the face.  The male is pale tan, darker along the sides, and mottled with black speckles.  There is much variability among species and even with the same species.


REPRODUCTION:  Male lizards will mate with all females passing through their territory. Females will dig deep in the soil to lay their eggs to protect them. The period of incubation takes about 3 months (similar to Iguanas) before the young lizards born measuring about 2 inches long at birth.

REMARKS: They are eaten by hawks, snakes, mockingbirds, herons, and centipedes.  Besides camouflage, they have one major defense mechanism to help keep them from joining the food chain, by being eaten by a higher animal: they will “drop” their tail when a predator grabs hold of it. The dropped piece of tail will continue to move about while the lizard attempts to flee and will regrow slowly.

LAVA LIZARD regrowing tail.

REMARKS: One often sees male and female lava lizards doing “pushups”  defending their territory or while courting.

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VIDEO LINK: Galápagos Series  http://www.youtube.com/watch v=VySe1X12gqs&hd=1

Conolophus subcristatus                 Iguanidae family

HABITAT: Arid low altitude portions of the islands.

 APPEARANCE: Iguanas have distinctive eyelids, external eardrums, dewlaps (throat pouches), each limb has 5 toes with sharp claws allowing them to climb.  Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Land Iguana as “ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red color above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance”.

C.subcristatus   grows  to approximately 3 ft (1 m) in length and weigh up to 25 pounds.

DIET: The mainstay of its diet is the prickly pear cactus. They eat the pads and fruit including the spines. The cactus provides both food and water for the land iguana, making it possible to survive without fresh water for a year.  C. subcristatus  are also opportunistic carnivores supplementing their diet with insects, centipedes and carrion.

REMARKS: Part of the adaptation to the drier environment includes a conservation of energy by slow movement. This makes the animals seem lazy or stupid. Land iguanas burrow into the ground creating tunnels which provides a place for nesting, shade during the day and protection at night.

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VIDEO LINK   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VySe1X12gqs&hd=1

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