National Geographic Photographs Park District's Unique Ca. Freshwater Fish Collection EBRPD Public Affairs


Many people don’t know that the world’s most diverse captive collection of native California freshwater fish make their home in a building adjacent to the East Bay Regional Park District’s Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. To educate Bay Area residents about the importance and fragility of Bay Area ecosystems, the park District’s Mobile Education Unit shares the fishes’ unique natural history with thousands of schoolchildren annually.

Now these special fish will be seen by hundreds of thousands more people, today and well into the future. At the end of August 2017, National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore visited the Park District’s aquarium lab with a camera and an important mission. Sartore leads the National Geographic Society’s Photo Ark, a project to document every species on Earth living in captivity, many of which are threatened or endangered. As National Geographic puts it, “Once completed, Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence, and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them.”

Park District Resource Analyst Josh Porter and Supervising Naturalist James Wilson were thrilled to help Sartore in this effort, assisting him in photographing 46 species of California fish and crustaceans. Some of the unique species highlighted on this visit: California’s only native sunfish, the Sacramento perch; and a unique representative of Oakland’s pride, a charismatic rainbow trout from Redwood Creek in Redwood Regional Park. (The common name “rainbow trout” was designated in 1855 by Dr. W.P. Gibbons, founder of the California Academy of Sciences, from three specimens caught in Redwood Creek.)

California’s freshwater and saltwater ecosystems were once considered the most diverse and unique in North America. From coral reefs off Los Angeles and San Diego to the most diverse trout and salmon population on Earth, many remarkable species live in California. It is often easy to overlook the species who make their homes beneath the surface of the Bay, delta, and local lakes and creeks. Joel Sartore and National Geographic’s Photo Ark will help us see and remember them more clearly as well as celebrate the diversity this world offers.

Information of National Geographic’s Photo Ark project can be found here:

More information on the East Bay Regional Park District Mobile Education Unit can be found here:

The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 121,000 acres in 73 parks including over1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.

L to R: James Wilson, Josh Porter and National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore

L to R: James Wilson, Josh Porter and National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore

Photo by William Morley/EBRPD

James Wilson, Supervising Naturalist, Mobile Education
(510) 544-2527