The Ocean’s Bright Orange Gems

The Garibaldi fish, pictured above by 11th grade Addie Basile, is a protected species native to the coast of California. For her AP Environmental Science field research, Addie and her team went scuba diving off the coast of Catalina Island in hopes of locating these precious fish. Scuba diving off the coast of Catalina Island offers an opportunity to explore the unique marine life of the area and to see the garibaldi fish, one of the most iconic species on the California coast. The garibaldi, also known as the "jewel of the kelp," is a vibrant orange fish that can be found in the kelp forests that line the shore and in the rocky reefs that dot the ocean floor. 
The objective of Addie’s team was to record the amount of Garibaldi fish along the surface of the reef. With the data collected, we can compare the fish distribution now with one from 20 years ago and analyze whether or not state protections are effective. And if not, the data can then guide future measures to mitigate overfishing. The garibaldi is a species of concern as its population has decreased in recent years due to pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction. According to Addie, a critical threat to garibaldi fish are the motorboats that destroy kelp and disrupt wildlife. To alleviate this problem, we could implement protected dive parks or limit the presence of motorboats during designated times of the year. 
Video by Addie Basile
In the future, Addie aspires to pursue a career in marine biology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her intellectual curiosity, persistence, and ambition give us hope that our oceans will continue to house bright orange garibaldi gems. 
The AP Environmental Science course here at Huntington Beach High School provides various opportunities for students to conduct field research. Addie’s experience scuba diving at Catalina Island is just one example of bringing the knowledge we learned in class into the real world. In fact, in March, students will be camping at Whitewater Preserve to gain a deeper understanding of the human impacts on the environment.
By Michelle Phan