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Red Irish Lord - Photo by S. Axtell

Bottomfish Identification: Sculpins

This identification guide is intended to provide information and key characteristics for common sculpin species in Washington’s marine waters.  To access species information click on the common or scientific name listed in the left hand column.  For each species, information is available on expected sizes, typical distribution, and published ages. 



Characteristics helpful in identifying sculpin are:

Preopercular spine: a spine that is situated in front of the operculum, or gill cover.

Cirrus: a slender tendril or hairlike filament of flesh.

Fleshy flaps: skin flaps can be located between nostril openings, or on the nostrils.


For additional identification assistance, sculpin information is available through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Webpage at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=animals.listfish

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also provides a dichotomous key for sculpin identification at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/fishid/FishIDOthers.asp

Enjoy learning about Washington’s Sculpins!

Brown Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus spinosus)  
Buffalo Sculpin (Enophrys bison)  
Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus)
Great Sculpin (Myoxocephalus polyacanthocephalus)
Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus)