Strange Fish in Weird Places

Freshly deceased Midshipmen found on the beach

Recently, an influx of warmer water along the California coast has brought unprecedented sightings of marine organisms found outside their typical habitats and/or ranges. Larger predatory fish and bigger schools of fish are staying around later in the year and, in some cases, non-native species that have never been documented as far north as California have found their way here, and have the potential to invade and displace native species.

To further understand this phenomenon and the effect that changing oceanic conditions will have on demersal fish species and benthic invertebrate communities, the California Undersea Imagery Archive is initiating a crowd-sourcing effort to document the observations of organisms in new and unusual places, including movements north from Mexico into southern California and movements from southern California north of Point Conception.

The archive is requesting any or all of the information below, with an emphasis on the location, depth and date that any imagery was collected:

  • Desired attribution for use of photo on website and outreach materials
  • Time and date
  • Species ID (lowest taxonomic level possible)
  • Depth (if collected via SCUBA or breath-hold diving)
  • Location (lat/long if possible, general location if not)
Informational flyer

Please complete the form below to submit your observations. Thank you!

Submission example

  • Submission by: Nicholas Ta, Monterey CA
  • Time and Date: individual(s) appeared between December 2014- October 2015, has not shown up again since.
  • Species ID: Barred Knifejaw, Oplegnathus Fasciatus (
  • Depth: The fish was found at around 25 feet when sighted at Abalone Farm, Breakwater Wall, and Del Monte ship. The fish was reported to be keeping station at McAbee Pinnacle at around 50 feet
  • Location: seen and confirmed at 4 places within Monterey: Breakwater wall (after #5 on the wall), Del Monte Sailboat (N36 36.193 W121 53.117), Abalone Farm, McAbee Pinnacle. ( N36° 37.048′, W121° 53.770′)
composite of barred knifejaw fish s

Related publication. Ta et al. 2018