- Cabezon is from the Spanish for ‘large head,’ which is a main characteristic of these fish
- Large, scaleless fish with a broad bony support extending from the eye across the cheek just under the skin
- It has 11 spines on its dorsal fin. Has a stout spine before the eye
- Can reach 3 feet in length and 31 pounds in weight
- Females (#67) are larger than the males
- Males are red, with lots of mottling to help with camouflage
- Their skin and mouth can look blue
- Native to the Pacific coast of North America
- North Alaska to central Baja California, Mexico
- Live in rocky, muddy and sandy bottoms, and kelp beds
- Juvenile fish settle in intertidal pools before moving to rocky reefs and kelp forests
- Found at depths of 0–656 ft
- Adults spawn on rocky outcroppings in shallow water
- Males guard the eggs until they hatch
- The larvae drift in the plankton for 3-4 months before hiding in kelp mats as larval fish
- The larval fish then settle in the intertidal zone as juvenile fish
- Cabezon feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and fish eggs
- Larger fish, marine mammals
- Cabezon spines, internal organs, and eggs are considered toxic to humans, but their meat can be consumed. It is blue, but will turn white when cooked.
- Unlike most fish, cabezons lack a swim bladder. Thus there is no damage to their tissues when they are brought up from deep pressure (depths) quickly.
- Cabezon are the largest sculpin species.
Sources: California Sea Grant; FishBio; Ben Frable, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Monterey Bay Aquarium
Photo: Mark Royer