California State Marine Fish


California State Marine Fish - Garibaldi

(Hypsypops rubicundus)

Adopted on October 15, 1995.

In 1995, the Legislature acted to protect the Garibaldi, (Hypsypops rubicundus,) by placing a moratorium on commercial collection until the year 2002. They also named the garibaldi the official State Marine Fish. On October 16, 1995, AB No. 77 was approved by Governor Pete Wilson and the garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) became the official state marine fish of the State of California.

  • Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) (Gov. sec. 425.6)
  • Designated in 1995 (Gov. sec. 425.6)

California State Marine Fish: Garibaldi

California State Marine Fish - Garibaldi

The Garibaldi or Garibaldi damselfish (Hypsypops rubicundus) is a species of bright orange fish in the damselfish family. Garibaldis occur in the subtropical northeastern part of the Pacific Ocean. The common name is a reference to the Italian military and political figure Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose followers often wore a characteristic scarlet or red shirt. As is the case in all damselfish, male Garibaldis aggressively defend the nest site after the female lays eggs.

Characteristics of the Garibaldi

A golden orange fish approximately 14 inches in length, the Garibaldi is most common in the shallow waters off the Southern California coast. Juvenile Garibaldi fish are typically less than 34cm in length and are reddish orange-yellow with bright blue spots. Occasionally, these iridescent blue spots and blotches can cover the body of the entire juvenile. Juveniles are typically mature adults by the time they have grown to be approximately 8 inches or are about five to six years old. (Sikkel, 1997)

Adult Garibaldi fish can grow to be nearly 17 inches long, however, few are larger than 12 inches. The longevity of a Garibaldi fish is, on average, between 13 and 18 years. Adult Garibaldi fish display a bright, golden orange color. This bright orange color is distinctive from all other fish in this area off the coast of California. This flashy color is thought to be a type of warning to other males indicating that the Garibaldi fish are fiercely territorial.

Both male and female Garibaldi fish are similar in appearance. The body of the Garibaldi fish is covered with large orange scales and displays a "deeply forked tailfin with rounded dorsal and ventral lobes of tips." The dorsal fin is comprised of "11-15 spines, 12-15 rays, and extends from above the insertion of the pectoral fin to the posterior of the base of the anal fin." (Bushing, 1995 and Sikkel, 1997)

When disturbed these fish emit a thumping sound which can be heard by divers. Although the garibaldi is not an endangered species, there is concern that commercial collection by the saltwater aquarium industry has reduced its numbers.

California Assembly Bill No. 77

In 1994 Assemblyman Bill Morrow introduced Assembly Bill No. 77 to further protect the garibaldi by enacting a moratorium to allow the resource to recover. This bill was backed by Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society, an organization whose mission is to "...explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean's vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet."

Within this bill, Assemblyman Morrow embedded Section 2 that read

SEC. 2. Section 425.6 is added to the Government Code, to read:
425.6. The garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) is the official state marine fish.

Amendments in the Assembly and in the Senate regarding the protective sections of the bill slowed passage in both houses. Never questioned, however, was the section specifying the garibaldi as the official state marine fish.

First read in the Assembly in January, 1995, Bill Morrow's bill was finally passed in the Senate in September of the same year. On October 16, 1995, AB No. 77 was approved by Governor Pete Wilson and the garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) became the official state marine fish of the State of California.

California Law

The law designating the garibaldi as the official California state marine fish is Sections 420-429.8 of the California Government Code, specifically Title 1 (GENERAL) Division 2( STATE SEAL, FLAG, AND EMBLEMS), Chapter 2 (STATE FLAG AND EMBLEMS), Section 425.6

SECTIONS 420-429.8

425.6. The garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) is the official state marine fish.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Garibaldi

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
    Suborder: Labroidei
Family: Pomacentridae
Genus: Hypsypops
Species: Hypsypops rubicundus

State Fishes
State Fish