Cabezon (Female)
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. 
  • They have 11 spines on their dorsal fin (upright fin on their back) and a thick spine before their eyes 
  • Can reach 3 feet in length and 31 pounds in weight; Females are larger than males
  • Females greenish in color, 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 pools within the intertidal zone (area of shoreline covered at high tide and uncovered at low tide)
  • Depths of 0656 feet

Diet

  • Cabezon feed on crustaceans (aquatic arthropods like crab and lobster), mollusks (invertebrates like squid and octopus) , 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. Their meat 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 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: Herb Gruenhagen

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