Yellowhead Jawfish

Yellowhead Jawfish (Opisthognathus aurifrons) as seen in our Sea & Me exhibit.

The Yellowhead Jawfish’s long, narrow body is perfect for burrowing. Most of its time is spent vertically, floating above or partially buried in the sandy sea bottom with only its head exposed. The head is very broad compared to the rest of the body with a large mouth that is well-suited for snapping up any prey that might swim or float close to the burrow. The head is bright yellow with the body softening to a gray color from the gills back to the tail. The Jawfish will also use its mouth to move sand and pebbles during the daily maintenance of the burrow. In a unique defensive adaptation, the male Jawfish will carry fertilized eggs in its mouth until the young hatch. This is known as “mouth-brooding” and helps prevent the eggs from being eaten by other ocean dwellers.

Range & Habitat

The jawfish can be found all along the Atlantic seaboard, from New England to South America. They are also common in coral reefs throughout the Caribbean Sea.

Conservation Status

Common.

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