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The Tidewater Goby—Another State Fish

by Bob Garbarino

The California golden trout holds the well-deserved status of being California’s state fish. It’s arguably one of most beautiful fish…and it’s a trout, which we fly anglers hold in high esteem. There is another lesser known fish that is only found in and around coastal lagoons along California’s coast. Some of us fisher-types that know a little about our local streams have probably heard of the tidewater goby. Tidewater gobies only grow to about 2 inches in length. They are adapted to surviving in large variations of water salinity, temperature and dissolved oxygen level. While their reproduction cycle can occur all year long, peak success takes place during the summer when the estuary sand bar is intact. In spite of the their resilient nature, a number of environmental changes have led to the tidewater goby to be listed as endangered. Coastal development that alters the natural formation of estuaries is one primary example. Over a span of about 60 years beginning in the early 1950s, the goby was not found. The reason is thought to be the discharge of poorly treated sewage, extensive levee construction and channelization. In 2013 and 2014 FISHBIO did surveys at the Salinas lagoon and found that the goby was the second largest number of fish counted. Fish surveys have been taking place annually with encouraging results. Although I was not able to find what specific recovery measures were enacted for the Salinas River Lagoon, I expect some action was taken following the release in of the “Recovery Plan for the Tidewater Goby” published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2005 to mitigate the above-mentioned stressors. Hopefully the improved conditions in the Salinas River lagoon will help other species populations grow as well!  For more details and information go to:
And an interesting video on the survey on the Salinas river: