Fish That Change Sex

Thu Mar 7, 2013
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
Arts, Museums
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FREE with gallery admission
When it comes to sexuality, no human can compare to the variety of sexes and sexual behaviors of lower vertebrates. Evolution has rewarded fishes that change sex (in either direction), that have harems (female and male), that (in a pinch) can mate with themselves, and perform a variety of other sexual strategies. Dr. John E. McCosker of the California Academy of Sciences explains why and what to look for when next visiting an aquarium, a kelp bed, or a coral reef.

John McCosker is a Senior Scientist and the first Chair of Aquatic Research at the California Academy of Sciences. From 1973 through 1994 he was Director of the Steinhart Aquarium. He received his PhD in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1973 and is an Adjunct Professor in Marine Biology at San Francisco State University. Trained as an evolutionary biologist, his research activities have subsequently broadened to include field and laboratory studies ranging from microscopic bioluminescent bacteria to macroscopic man-eating elasmobranchs. He has also studied the marine life of the Galápagos, the biology of salmonid fishes, dispersed and renewable energy sources as alternatives to national vulnerability and war, public safety issues and white shark attack behavior, and the public understanding of sustainable seafoods. He is the author of more than 260 popular and scientific articles and books and has appeared in numerous BBC, NOVA, and Discovery channel documentaries. He and his wife have dove and fished in all of the world’s oceans and he serves on the boards of several non-profit educational and research organizations.



  1. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
    701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA