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Browse our Q&A about birds, eggs, nests, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Central Coast and Channel Islands.

Fish skeleton

Found this in seaweed washed up at Hope Ranch Beach.

Pam, Santa Barbara - October 3, 2023

Curator Response

Dear Pam,

Thank you for sharing this fascinating find with us! Based on your photos, I think it's a tubesnout, perhaps species Aulorhynchus flavidus, family Aulorhynchidae. Very cute, it's related to sticklebacks. This species can be found in kelp, and there’s a kelp bed off Hope Ranch, where you reported finding this. You can read more about them on fishbase.

Stay curious,

Research Associate Chris Thacker, Ph.D.

Pam response:

thank you, i didnt know that, do you think it could be the venemous Yellow-bellied sea snake?

Curator response:

You’re welcome! Fortunately, no, I don’t think you need to worry about Hydrophis platurus, which is very rarely seen in California. This skeleton you found—its size, shape, and even color and texture—would look very different if it belonged to a snake. You can even see the rays of the caudal fin (tail fin) at the end, a giveaway that this belongs to a fish.

Pam response:

Oh thank goodness and thanks again for the information