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Santa Cruz, CA

Vikram Baliga, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Cruz, member of the Mehta Lab. Areas of study: ecology, ontogeny, morphometrics, and comparative methods.


Aquarium of the Pacific Visit (12/19/2011)

Vikram Baliga

Over the holiday break, I had the good fortune of being able to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA and I was completely blown away! I literally spent hours gawking at everything in the Tropical Pacific Gallery. I was especially grateful for the fact that this aquarium has a few cleaners in its galleries, namely Labroides dimidiatus (the bluestreak cleaner wrasse) and Labroides phthirophagus (the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse). Unfortunately, I was only equipped with a simple point-and-shoot camera, so the quality of the photos and videos I took leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, I thought I'd share some of my favorite spoils!

A bluestreak cleaner wrasse cleaning a unicorn tang.

The interaction is terminated when the cleaner dares
 to venture into the operculum of the tang.

Notice how this eyestripe surgeonfish lays quite still
as the cleaner does his job.

Again, the client (this time, a sixbar angelfish) lays 
still as the bluestreak cleaner wrasse cleans it.

Not to be outdone by its cousin, the Hawaiian cleaner
wrasse works its magic.

Of course, the cleaners weren't the only species with which I was fascinated. Here's a few more things I captured!

This honeycomb moray was quite active and friendly!

A California moray swimming in the open.

One of the strangest looking fishes I've seen in a long
time, the barred thicklip wrasse has a coloration
pattern that is reminiscent of the redbreasted wrasse.

Species in the genus Thalassoma are among my
favorite wrasses. Here's a few Cortez rainbow

Finally, this olive ridley sea turtle is one of the
crowd favorites at the Aquarium of the Pacific.