Fish of the Week: California Sheepshead

California Sheepshead (Semicossyphus pulcher)

Male Sheepshead - Courtesy of Dr. Jessie Sanders
Male Sheepshead – Courtesy of Dr. Jessie Sanders

The California Sheepshead is a member of the wrasse family and found along the Pacific coast from Monterey, CA to the Gulf of California in Mexico. Living mainly in kelp forests, they hunt during the day and tuck themselves into a mucous cocoon tight within a crevasse for the night. The mucous covering protects their scent from being picked up by predators. All sheepshead are born as females (smaller and all pink in coloration, much different from the male pictured on the right). They change over to males later in life, which is controlled by an unknown environmental factor. Males are very territorial and will actually stop spawning activity to chase away smaller males in their territory. Sheepshead are common aquarium kelp forest inhabitants. Look into visiting your local aquarium to see one for yourself!

Find a local zoo or aquarium on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Website 

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