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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Gobiidae
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Perciformes

Key Features:
Common and speciose, gobies are characteristically elongated bottom-dwellers.  Resembling blennies, identification of this family may be based on the lack the cirri found on blennies and, a dorsal fin that is usually separated, and the presence of fused pelvic fins into a ventral disc-like sucker.  Gobies are found in nearly every habitat including freshwater and brackish environments.     


Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Gobiosoma chiquita
Sonora Goby
Elactinus puncticulatus
Redhead Goby
Elactinus digueti
Banded Cleaner Goby
Aruma histrio
Slow Goby
Barbulifer pantherinus
Panther Goby
Coryphopterus urospilus
Redlight Goby
Lythrypnus dalli
Bluebanded Goby
Bathygobius ramosus
Panamic Frillfin Goby
Gillichthys seta
Shortjaw Mudsucker
Gillichthys mirabilis
Longjaw Mudsucker

shortjaw mudsucker in Puerto Penasco estuary Sonora, Mexico

Gillichthys seta
Shortjaw Mudsucker

Estero Morua, Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico


Baja Scuba and Marine Life Information


San Carlos Scuba Diving News

Family Gobiidae
Gobies (Gobios)

Although the gobies are likely the most speciose genera of fishes worldwide, (over 2000 species in more than 200 genera), they are often overlooked by divers owing to their typically diminutive size and secretive natures.  Often confused with blennies, most gobies lack the head cirri (structures that resemble eyelashes) that are characteristic in most blennies.  All gobiids also lack a lateral line, a structure used to detect the movements of predators and other organisms through changes in water pressure.  Gobies confine this sensory system solely to a series of mucus canals on the head.

Gobies are found in nearly every imaginable habitat in the Sea of Cortez.  Throughout the tidepools of Puerto Penasco in the northern Gulf, the commonest goby is the Sonora goby, Gobiosoma chiquita.  Drably colored and rarely exceeding two inches in length, this tough little fish can be seen darting through tidepools where summertime water temperatures are regularly above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and wintertime temperatures can drop into the 50’s.

Scuba divers in the central Sonora regions near San Carlos, and along the Baja Peninsula from Loreto and Mulege south to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, are more likely to encounter the closely related and much more colorful members of the genera Elactinus and Lythrypnus.  Along the larger boulders and rocky walls of shallow reefs (to 50 feet or so, often in less than 25 feet), the redhead goby Elactinus puncticulatus, will commonly be seen hopping back and forth as it patrols its rocky perches. 

The banded cleaner goby, Elactinus digueti prefers to reside in rocky crevices.  A specialized cleaner, this goby will share its home with moray eels and groupers, carefully picking parasites from their skin, gills and even cleaning their teeth. 

Scuba divers exploring the Sea of Cortez in the winter and spring will be awed by the spectacularly brilliant colors exhibited by the bluebanded goby, Lythrypnus dalli.  Preferring colder waters, this goby is rarely encountered by divers in the summertime as it migrates to depths below 200 feet.         


Updated August 28, 2009

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