Pacific Staghorn Sculpin
- Large flat head, small eyes, long jaws extend past eyes
- Gill covers extend into antler-like projections with 3-4 spines, hence the name staghorn
- Smooth skin, grayish-olive on back, yellowish on sides, white on belly
- Reach a length of 14 inches
- Southeastern Bering Sea, coast of Alaska, to Bahia San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico
- Shallow waters, bays, estuaries, oceanfront
- Salt and brackish waters; can adapt to freshwater or hypersalty water
- Larvae start in estuaries in sand. As juveniles, head to salt or freshwater. Can stay in freshwater for up to 6 weeks.
- Adults live offshore, as bottom-dwelling fish.
- Juveniles eat amphipods, invertebrates, small fish, aquatic insect larvae
- Older staghorn sculpin eat crabs, shrimp, fishes, polychaete worms, mollusks, invertebrates, anchovy
- Striped bass, Great blue heron, Caspian tern, Western grebes, harbor seals, river otters, sea lions, leopard sharks
- When stressed, they can expand their gill covers and emit a low-pitched humming sound.
- They can breathe air when out of water, and can leave tide pools if the water becomes inhospitable!
Sources: UC Davis; Fishbase; pier-fishing.com; California Water Board
Photo: Herb Gruenhagen