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Coastal & Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Isla del Coco Fishes

Isla del Coco Fishes

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Scallopped hammerhead
Scalloped Hammerhead
Sphyrna lewini
Orange Rock Fish
Commerson's Frogfish
Antennarius commersoni
male Red-Tail Triggerfish
Red-Tail Triggerfish (male)
Xanthichthys mento
Cocos Blue Banded Goby
Cocos Blue Banded Goby
Lythrypnus cobalus
Eagle ray
Eagle Ray
Aetobatus narinari
Peristedion sp.
King Angelfish
King Angelfish
Holacanthus passer
Images by Avi Klapfer
Image of front cover of Isla del Coco Fishes.
Look inside the book!
Buy the Book!
Image of online mini-movie.

The Book

Isla del Coco Fishes, written by coral reef ecologist Ginger Garrison, was first published in 2000 and the revised, expanded second edition was published in August 2005. The book provides a synthesis of scientific information about the remote Isla del Coco National Park (Costa Rica). Written in Spanish and English, descriptions and color photographs of 150 of the more than 308 fish species known from Isla del Coco are arranged in phylogenetic order. Many of the species are new records for the island and/or the eastern tropical Pacific.

Descriptions of fish species include:

  • the scientific name and common names in Spanish and English;
  • the diagnostic characteristics for distinguishing one species from another in the field;
  • size range;
  • habitats where the species occurs, what it eats, notes on reproduction and sex, and interesting behavior;
  • abundance of the species at Cocos and sites around the island where the species has been observed;
  • geographical distribution;
  • similar species and how to distinguish between them;
  • other common names and scientific synonyms.
The book also presents:
  • complete fish species list for the island's waters;
  • species lists for coral, birds, marine and terrestrial mammals, and reptiles;
  • graphics of the ocean floor, oceanic currents and a map of the island;
  • an introduction to the island's natural history;
  • a brief human history of the island.

Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

Isla del Coco is Costa Rica's most isolated national park and one of the most beautiful. The island was designated a national park in 1978 and has been home to resident park wardens since 1992. On 6 December 1997, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Isla del Coco a World Natural Heritage Site. In 1998, Cocos was designated a wetlands of international importance, one of a select number of sites on the Ramsar list. The seaward boundary of the marine national park was extended to 22.2 km (12 nm) from the Isla del Coco shoreline in 2001. In 2003, the United Nations Foundation and the UNESCO World Heritage Center launched the Marine Conservation Corridor of the Tropical Eastern Pacific, a 211 million hectare area that encompasses the marine protected areas of Cocos (Costa Rica), Gorgona and Malpelo (Colombia), Coiba (Panamá) and the Galápagos (Ecuador) islands, and the oceanic waters that link them.

Country: Costa Rica
Location: 5°29'57" - 5°33'20" North latitude; 87°01'41" - 87°05'39" West longitude
Area (island): 24 km2 (9.3 mi2)
Area (marine): 1,997 km2
Highest elevation: Cerro Yglesias, 634 m
Maximum variation between high and low tides: 4 m
Average rainfall: 7 m (>275 in per year)
Average air temperature: 25.5°C (77.9°F)
Average surface seawater temperature: 27.75°C (82°F)
more than 308 species of fishes, 20 known endemic
at least 34 species hard coral, 19 species zooxanthellate coral, 12 species of octocoral
0 native mammals, 6 species introduced
9 marine mammal species
111 species of birds, 3 endemic
4 turtle species, 1 sea snake species, 2 endemic terrestrial reptile species
over 800 species of insects estimated, at least 58 endemic
at least 262 terrestrial plant species, 37 endemic and 71 introduced species
of 42 marine plant species at Cocos, 29 have been identified

Related Internet Resources

Friends of Isla del Coco National Park Foundation

Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad

Area de Conservacion Marina Isla del Coco

About Isla del Coco Fishes

Available through the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio, San Jose,Costa Rica) Website books section.

For more information about the Isla del Coco research, please contact
Ginger Garrison at
Telephone: 727-502-8061

USGS logo Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad logo Area de Conservacion Marina Isla del Coco logo Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia logo United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization logo

Coastal & Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Isla del Coco Fishes U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
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Updated December 05, 2016 @ 11:24 AM (JSS)