Garibaldi Damselfish

Hypsypops rubicundus

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This beautiful fish is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, a nineteenth century Italian revolutionary who, along with his followers, was famous for wearing a bright red shirt. The color of the adult Garibaldi Damselfish is actually closer to a fluorescent orange than a bright red, but the name stuck and these fish are now commonly referred to as Garibaldis.

The fish is popular with divers and underwater photographers due to its stunning color, but has also been known to be aggressive. During breeding season, the male Garibaldi will ferociously protect egg caches, often attacking much larger animals including human SCUBA divers.

The fish is not native to Oregon coastal waters, but instead prefers the warmer currents off the California coast. In fact, the Garbaldi is the state marine fish of California.

Range and Habitat

All along the California coast, preferring reefs or rocky ocean bottoms up to a depth of 100 feet (30 meters). They can range as far north as Monterey Bay and as far south as the Gulf of California.

Conservation Status

Considered an endangered species due to intense over-harvesting, mostly for the saltwater aquarium industry. The fish is now fully protected under California state law.