College of Science

California Undersea Imagery Archive

Strange Fish in Weird Places

Freshly deceased Midshipmen found on the beach
Strange Fish flyer
Halfmoon example SF

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)

Please submit your observation(s) to Dr. James Lindholm at We appreciate your input - thank you!

Submission example

  • Submission by: Patrick Webster, Monterey CA
  • Time and Date: individual, 12/30/2017, 3:00 pm
  • Species ID: Finescale triggerfish, Balistes polylepis
  • Depth: 11 meters
  • Location: seen and confirmed at 36.60928, -121.89184, San Carlos Beach, Coast Guard Jetty, Monterey, California, directly across from the number 10 on the Breakwater wall
finescale trigger fish in habitat