Cabezon

Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) as seen in our Passages of the Deep exhibit.

Spanish-speakers will quickly understand this fish’s unusual name, which translates to “big-headed.” It is a formidable-looking animal, with a large, blunted head and a thick body covered in spines. Two large spines over either eye give the fish a particularly fearsome look. In many respects, Cabezon resemble stonefish and lionfish, to which it is closely related. The body is usually an olive-green to brown with dark mottling along its length. The mouth is wide and filled with many small, sharp teeth which help the Cabezon hunt crustaceans, mollusks and other fish. The Cabezon is an important game fish which is widely harvested, especially in the coastal waters off of California. Because it is a coastal fish that prowls the reefs in the intertidal zone, they can often be fished from shore or off piers. They grow to a large size, which also makes them a desirable sport-fish. The largest Cabezon ever caught was reported to weigh 23 pounds (10.4 kg).


Range & Habitat

Cabezon can be found from Alaska to Baja California. They prefer to dwell in rocky reefs or kelp forests near shore and where food is plentiful.


Conservation Status

Common.

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