Rare species for Shaw's Cove: Spotted porcupinefish!

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Posted by Deb Karimoto on October 27, 2004 at 21:41:37:


Tuesday morning I was diving at Shaw's Cove in Laguna Beach and found a fish species that is very rare for southern California waters, but not unheard of.

I originally thought it was a Pacific burrfish (Chilomycterus affinis. That fish has fixed triangular burrs that are shorter than the slightly longer and retractable spines of a porcupinefish or balloonfish. With those characteristics in mind, the consensus by many fish experts is that this was:

Diodon hystrix aka Spotted porcupinefish or Spot-fin porcupinefish

Diodon hystrix has been recorded in southern California before, but is far from consideration as a resident or common species. Its normal range barely includes San Diego at its extreme northern boundary. This little guy was found off north Laguna Beach, a 90 minute drive on the 5 fwy! It has been seen in Southern California waters before. Divers told me today of 2 sightings in Los Angeles County over the past 10 years.

Derek and I went to Rubio's tonight for dinner. You know the little balloonfish they have in each of their aquariums?? I couldn't keep my eyes off him tonight! Same genus, different species, but close enough! Just change the color to lavender-blue and that's basically it, although mine was much larger. He lives in a bigger aquarium, ya know. ;-)

View the photos here. While you're at it, I have other (better) images on that site of my recent northern Channel Islands trip.

My thanks to those who were so helpful with the positive ID of this adorable Spotted porcupinefish. Your time and enthusiasm was immensely appreciated!

~Debbie Karimoto
OC Divebums

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