Tag Archives: Pacific

Did You Know: The Pacific Ocean

Did you know that the name ‘Pacific’ comes from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ which translates to peaceful. The Pacific Ocean originally discovered in September 1513 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa while he was searching for gold. It later got its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magelllan back in 1521. He first called this waters “mar pacifico” which translate to peaceful sea. Ranking as the largest ocean, covering about 30% of the Earth’s surface, the Pacific can be anything but peaceful! Most of the world’s volcanoes, about 75%, are actually located in the Pacific Ocean creating what we know as the ‘ring of fire’. Many earthquakes occur in this area due to the high volcanic activity thus making the Pacific anything but peaceful!


The Pacific Ocean is actually divided in the North Pacific and the South by the world’s equator. Here on Catalina Island we are located in the North Pacific were the temperature of the water is much cooler. These cooler waters allow for a high diversity of marine invertebrates and expansive kelp forests. These kelp forests are home hundreds of different species of fish, primarily pertaining to the rockfish family. We do however see some of the tropical damselfish such as the Garibaldi and the Blacksmith. Blacksmiths (Chromis punctipinnis) are often seen traveling in schools and feeding off of plankton such as copepods and are know for the vibrant blue coloration.



Pacific Electric Ray

The Pacific Electric Ray, Torpedo californica, is one of 14 described species of electric rays, but is the only species limited with the west coast of the United States.  These rays are also called torpedo rays, electric rays and pacific torpedo rays. Their habitat is found on sandy bottoms around rocky reefs and kelp forests. They are mostly solitary and nomadic and endemic to the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean from Baja, California to British Columbia.

Rays can generate and control electrical charges at will. Muscle tissues in two kidney-shaped glands on their head can produce currents of up to 45 volts—an electrical shock strong enough to knock down an adult. Torpedo rays jaws are highly distensible, allowing it to swallow surprisingly large prey, a 4-foot female has been observed ingesting a coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) nearly half her length. The pacific torpedo employs several strategies to capture prey including using bottom topography to sneak up on prey, cupping its pectoral fins and executing a barrel roll to manipulate prey into the mouth.

Torpedo rays generate two types of electrical pulse: a regular ‘warning pulses’ when pursued and sharp, powerful blasts to stun their prey. Pacific electric rays are ovoviviparous with embryos feeding initially on yolk and eventually receiving additional food from the mother through absorption of uterine fluid.


We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Island Marine Institute is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree usually in marine science or related subjects. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.cimi.org for additional information. Happy Reading!