Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Creature Feature

Bony Fishes

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There are over 28,000 species of bony fishes in the world, and close to 700 can be found in California. Bony fishes are vertebrates that use gills to breathe and fins to swim. Many are covered in scales and all have calcium carbonate skeletons. They range greatly in size from the smallest of gobies to the huge Giant Sea Bass. Read more about bony fishes.

 Fish Illustration





Did you know...
the garibaldi is the California State Marine Fish and is protected by law? It is one of only a few species of damselfishes found in California and can be found from Monterey Bay to southern Baja California.

que el garibaldi es el pez marino del estado de California y está protegido por la ley? Es una de las pocas especies de damiselas que se encuentran en California y se puede encontrar desde la Bahía de Monterey hasta el sur de Baja California.

Moray Eel

Did you know...
that there are over 200 species of moray eels in the world? The California moray is our resident species found from Point Conception to southern Baja California. How do you tell if an eel is a moray...they have no pelvic or pectoral fins!

que hay más de 200 especies de anguilas morenas en el mundo? La anguila morena de California es nuestra especie residente que se encuentra desde el Punto de Concepción hasta el sur de Baja California. ¿Cómo se sabe si una anguila es una anguila morena ... no tienen aletas pélvicas o aletas pectorales!





Check out this video (también en Español) and learn all about the Garibaldi!


There is something fishy under the water, watch this video and learn all about bony fish!


Go snorkeling in the Kelp Forest with Alfonso and look for fish!


Become flatfish and do the classic CMA Do-it! Do-it!!!


Relax under the kelp paddy…a peaceful interlude!


For Your Creative Side:

  • Build a moray eel and do a ribbon dance

  • Build a flatfish marionette

  • Build a silent mackerel wind chime


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Coloring (Click image to open a PDF to print and color)


  • Identify some of our local birds that eat fish! Take this bird quiz and see how you do!

Arts and Crafts


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Lesson: What do Fish Have? (Grade Level: Kindergarten through 3rd grade)

A Lesson on Bony Fish Classification (Grade Level: 5th grade through High School)

Additional Resources:

An Introduction to Bony Fishes

The body shape of a fish can give clues to its swimming ability and lifestyle. Fast-swimming fishes, such as tunas and mackerel, have a fusiform or cigar shaped body which reduces drag. Fishes with a deeper shape, such as the garibaldi, can turn more easily, and thus typically inhabit rocky reefs where maneuverability is more important than sustained speed. Flattened fish, such as the California halibut, are typically found resting on the ocean’s bottom. They have retained some ability to swim in the water column but typically live buried in the bottom sediments.

The number, location, and shape of fins also differ from fish to fish. Fins are typically used for stability, propulsion, and steering and are shaped according to their function. There are also many different types of swimming methods among fishes. The most common method of swimming involves some movement of the body and large thrusts of the tail or caudal fin, but some fishes also propel themselves with other fins.

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Southern California Species

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is home to more than 200 species of animals that live in and around the waters of Southern California. Do you have a question about these and other Southern California species? Ask a Biologist.

Cetorhinus maximus

The basking shark is the second largest species of fish in the world.

Prionace glauca

The blue shark has one of the largest ranges of all species of sharks.

Lythrypnus dalli

These peaceful fish are often territorial with members of their own species.

Sebastes paucispinis

The bocaccio can live up to 45 years.

Leuresthes tenuis

Unlike other fish, grunion come completely out of the water to lay their eggs in the sand.

Paralichthys californicus

The California halibut is a flatfish with both eyes on one side of its head!

Scorpaena guttata

The California scorpionfish has venom in its spines.

Semicossyphus pulcher

The California sheephead are all born as females.

Raja inornata

The California Skate has a skeleton made completely out of cartilage.

Alopias vulpinus

The common thresher shark uses its long tail in a whip-like fashion to deliver incapacitating blows to its prey.

Hypsypops rubicundus

Garibaldi is the California State marine fish.

Hypsypops rubicundus

Garibaldi is the California State marine fish.

Heterostichus rostratus

The giant kelpfish can quickly change color during courtship or territorial displays.

Stereolepis gigas

This fish is huge, growing over 7.5 feet long and weighing over 500 pounds.

Carcharodon carcharias

The great white shark is capable of explosive bursts of speed and has been known to jump 3 meters (10 feet) out of the water.

Heterodontus francisci

The female horn shark lays a distinctive spiral-shaped egg case.

Paralabrax clathratus

Kelp bass reproduce by spawning (release egg and sperm into the water column) and form large aggregations in the summer months.

Triakis semifasciata

Leopard sharks are bottom feeders and are named because of their stripes.

Gymnothorax mordax

This eel's favorite prey is the octopus.

Squatina californica

The Pacific angel shark superficially looks like a ray, but is a true shark.

Eptatretus stoutii

Hagfish are considered to be the most primitive species of all living fish.

Pacific Hake   Arrow
Merluccius productus

The Pacific hake can live up to 15 years.

Scomber japonicus

The Pacific mackerel is also known as the chub mackerel or blue mackerel.

Sardinops sagax

The Pacific sardine form large schools of up to 10 million fish.

Hippocampus ingens

The Pacific seahorse reverses traditional birthing roles.


Xenistius californiensis

These fish have an up-turned mouth to better eat plankton.


Anisotremus davidsoni

The sargo is the largest of the Pacific grunts.

Isurus oxyrinchus

The shortfin mako shark is able to elevate its body temperature almost 20°F above the surrounding water.

Cephaloscyllium ventriosum

When stressed, the swell shark can “swell” by inflating its stomach by swallowing water.

Eucyclogobius newberryi

The tidewater goby is an endangered species.

Atractoscion nobilis

The white seabass is the largest species of croaker in California.


Creature Feature Archive

      6/5/2020 Bony Fishes (Featured)
      6/3/2020 Spring Outdoor Program
      5/23/2020 Birds
      5/15/2020 Whales
      5/8/2020 Salt Marsh
      5/1/2020 Rocky Shores
      4/23/2020 California Grunion
      4/15/2020 Celebrate Earth Day!
      4/7/2020 Sandy Beach Invertebrates
      3/11/2019 Channel Island Fox
      11/14/2016 Piddock Clam
      6/22/2016 Giant Pacific Seahorse
      3/2/2016 Spiny Sand Crab
      12/22/2015 Northern and Southern Tidewater Gobies
      9/16/2015 Tuna Crab
      6/17/2015 Snake Skin Brittle Star
      2/23/2015 Humboldt Squid
      12/15/2014 Allen’s Hummingbird
      5/17/2013 Killer Whale
      3/31/2013 Cowcod
      2/15/2013 Crystal Jelly
      11/1/2012 Risso's dolphin
      9/6/2012 Lacy Crust Bryozoan
      8/16/2012 California sheephead
      7/31/2012 Chitons
      7/17/2012 Splitnose rockfish
      2/28/2012 Green Sea Turtle
      12/26/2011 Gray Whales
      11/16/2011 California Brown Pelican
      8/23/2011 Oarfish
      2/21/2011 Pacific Mackerel
      6/28/2010 Football Fish
      3/3/2010 Grunion
      1/12/2010 E. coli, Oh My!
      7/22/2009 Cabrillo's Fossils
      3/9/2009 Garibaldi
      11/3/2008 Laysan Albatross