Rare NorCal sighting of pufferfish

Two pufferfish may have been spotted on a Monterey Bay beach, far north of their usual range of habitat, according to the Santa Cruz-based conservation group Save Our Shores.

The fish were spotted last weekend roughly four miles south of Marina State Beach during a 20-mile hike from Sunset State Beach in Santa Cruz County to Del Monte Beach in Monterey County, according to Program Director Rachel Kippen.

Kippen said in a statement Thursday:

“I believe that the two puffers I saw were porcupine fish, which are more commonly found in Baja California, but I’d want to get a second opinion.”

Kippen was skeptical of her find, saying the fish could have also been mola mola, but pufferfish sightings are rare in the Monterey Bay since the species typically lives in warmer waters to the south.

This year’s El Nino weather pattern may be a factor, according to Save our Shores, given some of the other rare sightings like pelagic red crabs – which washed ashore last week for the first time since 1982.