California Corbina
Menticirrhus undulatus

Physical Description

  • Elongate (long, skinny), cylindrical-shaped body
  • Shiny, incandescent, solid grey coloration, with wavy diagonal lines on sides and a whitish belly
  • One barbel (fleshy filament) projecting from chin


  • Point Conception, California to Gulf of California, Mexico


  • Bottom-dwelling fish
  • Found on sandy beaches, shallow bays, and the surf zone
  • Live at depths of 0-45 feet


  • Spawning occurs from May to September, especially mid-June to mid-August
  • Males mature at 2 years old and 10 inches long and females at 3 years old and 13 inches long
  • Eggs are free floating


  • 90% of diet is sand crabs
  • Will ingest mouthfuls of sand to get to sand crabs, and spit the sand out of their gills
  • Eat some clams and other crustaceans as well


  • Pacific angel shark, California halibut, bottlenose dolphin

Interesting Facts

  • Sometimes they feed in such shallow water in the surf zone that their backs are out of water. 
  • They use their chin barbels to search for sand crabs in the surf zone.

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Ocean Protection Council;

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

Back To Map