Cabezon (Male)
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus

Physical Description

  • Cabezon is 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 are larger than the males
  • Males are red, with lots of mottling to help with camouflage
  • Their skin and mouth can look blue

Range

  • Native to the Pacific coast of North America
  • North Alaska to central Baja California, Mexico

Habitat

  • Rocky, muddy and sandy bottoms, and kelp beds
  • Young settle in intertidal pools before moving to rocky reefs and kelp forests
  • Depths of 0–656 ft

Diet

  • Cabezon feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and fish eggs.

Predators

  • Larger fish, marine mammals

Interesting Facts

  • 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 quickly.
  • Cabezon is Spanish for large head, which is a main characteristic of these fish. 
  • Cabezon are the largest sculpin species.

Sources: California Sea Grant; FishBio; Ben Frable, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Photo: Mark Royer

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