Physical Description

  • Has an oval, vertically flattened body.
  • Has a small head with very large eyes and a small, upwardly slanted mouth.
  • Silver body coloring, with faint dark gray coloration on top of back and black tips of their fins.
  • Juveniles have narrow golden vertical bars on their sides. 


  • Vancouver Island, British Columbia to Point San Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico.


  • Live in shallow water like bays.
  • Live in sandy beaches, near rocks, around piers, and in the surf.


  • They bear live young.
  • They mate in pairs in early winter.
  • Gestation lasts up to one year, with each female giving birth to 5-12 young that are 1.5 inches each. Larger females produce larger litter sizes.


  • Small crustaceans, amphipods, copepods, terrestrial moth flies.
  • Visual nocturnal hunter, hence its large eyes.


  • California halibut is their main predator.
  • They are also eaten by bottlenose dolphins, various seabirds, and harbor seals.

Interesting Facts

  • They are often found in dense schools of hundreds of fish.

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife;; Fishbase; Moring 1984; Hobson and Chess 1986;

Photo: Ken Jones