If you dive in Southern California then you know there is one fish you are absolutely guaranteed to see…the Garibaldi! It is the official marine fish of the state of California and is protected in California coastal waters. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about Garibaldi:
1. The Garibaldi is named after Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi who in the 1840’s decided to start wearing bright red shirts as part of his personal style. He fought for the reunification of Italy, eventually became a general and died a national hero. Naturally when biologists discovered the feisty red-orange fish hanging out in rocky reefs off California they figured Garibaldi was a good fit.
2. The male Garibaldi will protect his nest by charging and challenging any of his kind. His challenge consists of a loud thumping noise made by grinding together teeth far back in his throat called pharyngeal teeth.
3. The Garibaldi’s diet includes worms, sea stars, anemones, shrimp, small shellfish, and sponges.
4. The Garibaldi are a solitary fish. They can be observed in disorganized aggregations a few feet above the bottom which may be a part of a breeding ritual. They do not school.
5. The Garibaldi may live up to 17 years, but life span is generally about 12 years or less.