55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Naturalist Notebook 

August 23, 2011

Spotlight On…

Check out this week’s featured specimen!

(Pictured below, really close up!)

Photo: N. Sincero 2011

Can you guess what it is?

Here are some hints:

  • This animal has sharp backward-facing points on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help keep slippery fish headed in the right direction.
  • A common threat to this animal is lead or mercury poisoning caused by pollution in its aquatic environment.

Leave us a comment with your answer! Then come see us outside the Project Lab on Friday, August 26th at 11:30 AM for Specimen Spotlight in order to find out if you’re right.

Filed under: Spotlight On... — nature @ 9:01 am


  1. Hmm, eats fish eh?

    Comment by Lessie — August 23, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  2. Gavia? Maybe G. immer?

    Comment by neil — August 24, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  3. It’s a brown pelican. DUH

    Comment by Andrew Wolf — August 24, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  4. My guess is the osprey!


    Comment by tim vogel — August 24, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  5. Could it be a bald eagle? I don’t know about the mouth adaptations, but I know that mercury poisoning is a serious threat to bald eagles, and that bald eagles have brown feathers with white spots when they’re young.

    Comment by Dani — August 24, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  6. Tough one! I’m guessing it’s a sea otter. That looks like close up fur?

    Comment by eileen — August 24, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  7. Either a Bald Eagle or an Osprey?

    Comment by Lorelei — August 24, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  8. Red Shouldered Hawk

    Comment by Brennan — August 24, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  9. I am going to say – Clapper rail.

    Comment by Craig Rosa — August 24, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  10. (specifically, the California Clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus)

    Comment by Craig Rosa — August 24, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  11. Great guesses! Congratulations to Neil who correctly guessed Gavia immer, the common loon. There’s a great entry for them on Cornell University’s All About Birds (a site we use frequently here at the Naturalist Center). I highly recommend playing the audio file of their call to startle your coworkers.
    We’ll have a new guess the specimen game up on Tuesday, but in the meantime won’t you tell us Who Pooped?

    Comment by nature — August 26, 2011 @ 9:44 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Academy Blogroll