- Has a typical rockfish shape, with heavy body and strong head.
- Has a strong dorsal fin, with large spines that are venomous.
- Red coloring in deeper water, brown in shallower water, yellow bellies.
- Dark spots all over body and fins.
- Length up to 17 inches long.
- Santa Cruz, California to central Baja California.
- Found out to Guadalupe Island.
- Uncommon north of Point Conception.
- Live on shallow rocky reefs.
- Live in caves, crevices, wrecks, and pipes.
- Found in shallow water to 620 feet.
- They return to the same spawning grounds year after year.
- They form large spawning aggregations of many fish.
- Females generally outnumber males.
- Some mature at 1 year, half mature by 2 years, all mature by 4 years.
- Spawning occurs from April to September, peaking from June-July.
- Spawning occurs externally, and the eggs are embedded in a gelatinous, hollow pear-shaped balloon.
- Eggs float near the surface and hatch within 5 days.
- Nocturnal ambush predators.
- Eat small crabs, octopus, shrimp, northern anchovy, squid, spotted cusk-eel, yellow rock crab, ridgeback prawn, California two-spot octopus.
- California two-spot octopus, sharks, rays.
- Commonly called sculpin, but they are not a true sculpin. They used to be called spinefish. Scorpaena comes from the Greek word scorpion, referring to their poison spines.
- A sting from their spines is said to hurt as much as a rattlesnake bite!
- They can live up to 21 years.
Sources: Pierfishing.com; Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; Aquafind.com
Photo: David R. Andrew