SPRING 2016    /    ARCHIVE
Pacific seahorse, Ballonfish, Zebra moray

Upcoming Exhibit

¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge—Animal Stars from Sand and Sea

You're in for a treat when ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge opens March 19. You'll see an amazing array of tropical fishes and invertebrates, and meet several iconic desert animals—a first for the Aquarium.

Visitors to ¡Viva Baja! will encounter animals that live in Baja's arid deserts, lush mangrove forests and vibrant coral reefs. Here are a few highlights of the colorful and charismatic creatures you'll meet inside the different galleries of our newest special exhibition.

Near the Edge

Baja's coastal deserts support plants and animals that have adapted to thrive in its sun-scorched sands and sapphire seas.

Rockmover wrasse

Novaculichthys taeniourus
Also known as the dragon wrasse, this striking fish feeds by flipping rocks and gobbling up the small critters hiding underneath. Adults often work in pairs to find their meals.

Desert tortoise

Gopherus agassizii
This large, slow-moving terrestrial tortoise is easily recognizable by the distinctive scutes (thickened plates) on its domed shell, large elephantine rear feet and stocky, scaly forelimbs with very long nails. It uses its claws to dig deep underground burrows and escape the desert heat.

Mountain kingsnake

Lampropeltis zonata agalma
This beautiful and harmless snake’s red, black and cream coloring mimics that of the venomous coral snake. Its behavior turns nocturnal during summer heat.

At the Edge

Where Baja California’s deserts meet the Gulf of California, lush mangrove forests teem with life. The ebb and flow of tides around the trees’ tangle of roots reveals a unique community.

Round stingray

Urolophus halleri
This ray burrows in substrate forworms, crabs, snails and clams. Gliding over the soft sandy seafloor, it uses its mouth and disc to dig large pits and uncover buried prey. It leaves a bonus in its wake. Small fishes swoop into these pits to feed on prey they couldn’t normally catch on their own.

Panamic green moray

Gymnothorax castaneus
This is the classic moray eel of most people’s imaginations: long, lean and green. It prefers life in a burrow inside rocky crevices. It usually hunts at night, relying on its sense of smell to find its prey.

Golden trevally

Gnathanodon speciosus
Shiny and bright, and with a distinctive following behavior, it’s easy to identify the golden trevally among other colorful tropical fishes. Bright yellow as juveniles and gold and silver as adults, this species uses its protractile (extendable) jaws to suck out prey from sand or reef. Juveniles usually form large schools and follow—or "pilot"—bigger fish or even jellies. Their agility protects them from their hosts, whose bulk may offer protection from predation by other fish.

Pacific seahorse

Hippocampus ingens
One of the largest known species of seahorse, Pacific seahorses can grow to 12 inches tall. It's the only seahorse found off the California coast, with a range from San Diego Bay to Peru. It’s a vulnerable species, according to the IUCN.

Over the Edge

Ocean life is active and abundant where the Pacific Ocean meets the Gulf of California. Colorful fishes and invertebrates seek shelter on Cabo Pulmo’s coral reefs.

Chinese trumpetfish

Aulostomus chinensis
This solitary seahorse relative is a stealthy hunter with effective ambush techniques. It can hover almost motionless and sneak up on prey, or camouflage its slender and supple body among coral reefs and wait for something delicious to crawl or swim by. It also tracks larger fishes and even hawksbill sea turtles as they cruise along, using them as a blind from which to dart out and snatch a quick meal.

Panamic fanged blenny

Ophioblennius steindachneri
This streamlined fish does indeed have "fangs"—elongated canine teeth that are used for defense. Its large eyes and sharp profile contribute to its nickname: the horse-faced blenny.

Staghorn hermit crab

Manucomplanus varians
What appears to be a crab wearing antlers on its back is actually a weird but wonderful symbiotic relationship. The crab makes its home in a staghorn hydrocoral, Janaria mirabilis, whose stinging cells offer protection. In return, the usually sessile hydrocoral gets to move around and filter feed on plankton as the mobile crab forages on the seafloor.

Mexican lookdown

Selene brevoortii
Easily recognizable by its super slender silhouette and strong, steep profile, this pelagic fish also has an exaggerated dorsal fin. The slim silver fish confuses predators by facing toward them and almost disappearing.

Cortez rainbow wrasse

Thalassoma lucasanum
Wrasses are usually the most abundant and conspicuous members of coral reef communities. Tropical wrasses are distinguished by their brilliant coloring.


Diodon holocanthus
With its big eyes, smiley mouth and ability to balloon into a spiky ball, this fish is the most well-known pufferfish in the world. Its fused teeth are beak-like, which allow it to crack open crustaceans and satisfy its huge appetite.

Member Previews

Join us for these exclusive viewing opportunities of ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge:
  • Friday, March 18
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday, March 19 & 20
    9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
See all member events

Download Shorelines Spring 2016 (PDF)
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