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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin 160. Observations On Fishes Associated With Kelp Beds in Southern California


This bulletin is meant to be a guide to the fishes of the west-central coast of North America that commonly occur in kelp beds and adjacent areas. The fishes described are common species, and this report is not meant to include all species that occur in the kelp environment and adjacent zones. In all, 97 species are described; key identification features are given. Colors listed for each species refer to how that specimen would appear in the live and/or recently captured state; underwater behavioral characteristics are given wherever possible to aid the underwater diving enthusiast. Description of the kelp environment is given, which includes a brief explanation pertaining to the three major ecological zones within the kelp ecosystem. A brief explanation and description of the kelp bed flora is included, along with geographical considerations. The kelp environment as a habitat type for fishes is discussed; three habitat regions in the kelp bed are given special attention, these are: 1) the canopy, 2) intermediate regions, and 3) kelp bottom holdfast region. Accounts of each species of fish then follow which include identification, distribution, size, habitat habits, and life history inclusive of food and reproductive biology whenever available. Four appendix tables include listings of the organisms frequently observed by diving in the various kelp bed habitat regions.

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