Making a home in the Sea of Cortez

Anyone who's visited the Aquarium recently has likely noticed our colorful new Sea of Cortez exhibit on the first floor. If a visitor paused a moment, they may have seen this fascinating little fish doing a little excavating.

Blue spotted jawfish surveys the exhibit from his burrow in the Sea of Cortez exhibit

Bluespotted jawfish (Opistognathus rosenblatti) build their burrows by scooping sand with their large mouths and spitting it out the entrance of the nest. While they do venture out of their burrows to feed on invertebrates in the water column, they are quick to dart back inside when threatened. Check out this short video clip to see the jawfish in action.

The jawfish is just one of several interesting species living in the Sea of Cortez exhibit. This beauty — a Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus) — is the only known member of its taxonomic family. The name is purportedly derived from the an ancient belief that they bring happiness to those who encounter them.

The Moorish idol is one of the handsome residents of the
Sea of Cortez exhibit on Level One.

And then there's the gold-rimmed tang. Learn more about its territorial spinning behavior in this previous post. Plus the Cortez rainbow wrasse, the keyhole angel, and the list goes on. There's also a whole other marine habitat in this exhibit, too — a deep Pacific coral environment. See a video of this display here.

The Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, is a special corner of our marine world. As one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. (The Phoenix Island Protected Area was named a World Heritage Site this year! Learn more about this Pacific Ocean marine protected area that the Aquarium helped create on the PIPA Blog.) Come on down to the Aquarium to glimpse a slice of this vibrant ocean habitat right here in Boston!


Spinning behavior in the Sea of Cortez exhibit

Next time you visit the Aquarium, be sure to stop by the new Sea of Cortez exhibit on the first level. When you get there, you might see this fascinating behavior--spinning gold-rimmed tangs (Acanthurus nigricans). Here's what it looks like.

This can go on for much longer than the length of this video. This is a common territorial interaction for several species of surgeonfish. 

Be sure to look for other fascinating fish behaviors during your visit to the tropical gallery.


Exhibit Opening! Two New Windows into the Pacific

There are two new opportunities for visitors to experience Pacific seascapes with the renovation of an exhibit bay on the Aquarium's first level. One exhibit presents the Sea of Cortez coral environment.

The new Sea of Cortez exhibit

Aquarium explorers visited this environment during an expedition in 2008. Their updates from the field reveal how closely this exhibit replicates the actual habitat.

Photo from a shallow water dive during the 2008 Sea of Cortez expedition

Next to this bright tank, visitors can explore a Deep Pacific coral environment. The video below shows the contrast between these two fascinating vistas.