Fish Life in La Paz

Fish Life in the Sea of Cortez

If there is one consistent thing about diving in La Paz it is the large amount of fish life at our dive sites. Those who have dove in the Indo-pacific and the Caribbean may recognize a lot of the fish species they encounter but the schools and individuals are much larger and display some different behaviour you may not be used to. La Paz is also home to many fish species you will not see anywhere else. About 10 percent of the Gulf of California fish fauna is endemic—80 of the 821 bony fish and 4 out of the 90 cartilaginous fish species are only found in the Sea of Cortez. These include the totoaba, Gulf weakfish, big-eye croaker, Cortez cling-fish, Sonora blenny, white-tip smoothhound, Cortez stingray, Cortez skate, Gulf grunion, delta silverside, leopard grouper, saw-tail grouper, Cortez damselfish, Gulf signal blenny, slow goby, Guaymas goby, and short-jaw mudsucker, among others. Endemic mammals include the vaquita porpoise, and the Gulf fishing bat.

While diving here in La Paz you will encounter many species of fish, for identification purposes it is best to use characteristics such as size and color and to also look at behavior as well. There are only a few identification books for fishes in the Sea of Cortez, one being a volume of the REEF series of New World Publications, "Reef Fish Identification Baja to Panama". The other is "Sea of Cortez Marine Animals: A guide to common fishes and invertebrates". The first mentioned is far superior but only contains information on the fish species. The authors have separated the species into groups based on visual characteristics and behaviors; although there is no relation to taxonomy in these groupings they are useful for identification purposes. A good online resource is; they have a huge amount of information on fish species in the Sea of Cortez.

There are far too many fish species to list here but the one guaranteed thing about diving in La Paz is the huge amount of fish life in these waters. It is common to see large schools of fish on every dive site and mini schools of fish like balloonfish, puffers, cornetfish and moorish idols. There are plenty of fish for macro lovers with over 60 species of goby, blennies and jawfish and countless chances to observe cleaning stations and other relationships.