Fish play an important role in water environments. They feed on nearly all types of plants and animals, they provide a home for other organisms such as bacteria and crustaceans, and they are eaten by many other types of animals, including many terrestrial species. Their vast numbers and diversity also contributes to their importance. Fish are the most abundant vertebrates in terms of both species and individuals. It is estimated that there are approximately 22,000 species of fish which make up about half of all species of vertebrates on earth—a little more than half of these species are marine (58%).
Over 130 species of fish have been recorded at Point Reyes. Some are protected by the Endangered Species Act, such as the tidewater goby, coho salmon, and steelhead trout. The large numbers of pinnipeds (i.e., seals and sea lions) that haul out at Point Reyes and on the Farallon Islands attract white sharks to these waters.
From 2007 to 2012, Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center Science Communication Interns produced a series of podcasts, videos, and audio-slide shows exploring science from Bay Area national parks. Five of these The Natural Laboratory multimedia products focused on fish—two on white sharks, two on coho salmon, and one on tidewater gobies. View the Return of the Tide Water Goby video below; the videos and podcasts for the coho salmon and white sharks can be found on the pages dedicated to those species. Visit our Multimedia Presentations: The Natural Laboratory page for additional videos and podcasts.
[Cassandra Brooks narrates]
Meet the tidewater goby, one of the most endangered fish in the Point Reyes National Seashore region.
As a fish found exclusively in estuarine waters, widespread coastal development has caused tidewater goby populations to plummet.
The fish landed on the federal endangered species list in 1994. By 2006, tidewater gobies had disappeared from 75 percent of their original habitat.
Leading government and state officials took action, traveling with nets in hand to the recently restored Giacomini Wetland, one of the few places in the region with a tidewater goby population.
National Park Service wildlife intern Michael Saxton and aquatic ecologist Darren Fong pull a seine net through the water to gather the gobies.
The little tidewater gobies were then gently taken from the nets and placed in buckets, which were used as their transport vehicles.
The gobies traveled ten miles to their new home in Tomales Bay State Park.
There, they were relocated to a lagoon just inshore from the beach.
The fish spent three days in punctured buckets, slowly adjusting to their new environment.
When the release day finally arrived, Fong and Park Service intern Cassandra Brooks prepared the gobies.
Bree Hardcastle, an environmental scientist with California State Parks, uses a net to carefully place the gobies in the lagoon.
Fong helps Hardcastle release the gobies into their new home. Here, within the confines of the State Park, they will be safe from disturbance for many years to come.
And the tidewater goby may once again flourish in the Tomales Bay watershed.
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Cassandra Brooks provides a report about the effort to relocate some endangered tidewater gobies to a lagoon in Tomales Bay State Park.
Science & Research Project Summaries
From 2006 to 2018, Point Reyes National Seashore and Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center (PCSLC) staff and communication interns assisted scientists conducting research through the PCSLC and the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network to produce a series of Resource Project Summaries, four of which were about fish at Point Reyes. These one- to two-page summaries provide information about the questions that the researchers hoped to answer, details about the project and methods, and the results of the research projects in a way that is easy to understand.
Last updated: February 5, 2024